Notes & updates from your friends at Flexpress. For more info visit www.flexpress.com

Just as e-readers and tablets have muscled printed books and magazines into smaller market shares, so smart phones and tablets with calendar apps have drawn many users away from the printed calendar, it seems. These devices all come with calendars, notes, and scheduling capabilities complete with alarms. The schedules can be backed up to cloud servers and data can be retrieved anywhere you can get a signal. Switching from paper is a no-brainer, right?

wall_calendarAnd yet … printed calendars are still here. Yes, perhaps it is true that dinosaurs walk among us. But – perhaps – there is more to it than that.

Studies have proven that students who take handwritten notes in class retain more information than those who type or record lectures, and that same neural connection is true when writing appointments by hand. If you want to improve your odds of remembering the appointment, write it down. Speaking of writing, journal-style calendars also have spaces to doodle and take notes. This simple organic action may be a big reason why many people keep their old calendars as journals and diaries. What paper calendars lack in technology is made up for in personality.

Wall calendars, for example, have got personality galore with colorful photos and themes celebrating everything from favorite teams (and their cheerleaders) to hobbies, fine art and motivational messages. With digital printing it is even possible to personalize the images for each month with family, pets or vacation photos.

A wall calendar is also perfect for families with busy schedules. Not only can kids see their events, a paper calendar reduces the risk of little fingers accidentally sending the parent’s schedule out to everyone in the phone contact list. Score one for privacy.

Another benefit of wall calendars is their ease of use. It is possible to look up and see the entire month at a glance without logging in and going through several clicks and swipes to get to the info. It is such an intuitive, natural action that the simplicity of it is often overlooked. A final thought on the tactile nature of print calendars is this, turning the page to the next month gives a sense of rhythm and passage of time that is lost with constant “swipes” back and forth.

So as we prepare for our busy schedules in 2015 we ask “electronic or paper?” We think there’s a place for both in our future.

Corporate_Gift_IdeasThe holidays are traditionally the peak time for gift giving in the U.S. It is a tangible reminder of the recipient’s importance to you. This is true for business as well as personal relationships. A corporate gift not only shows appreciation, it builds bonds. Honestly, everyone loves to be remembered with a gift. But giving can be a stressful time if you haven’t stopped to ask – and answer – a few key questions.

When to give?
Traditionally, Christmas gifts were given and the timing was set around that holiday work schedule. With a growing awareness of diversity in the workplace, some have opted to avoid any potential awkwardness and give a more generalized “Holiday” gift any time in December. Although both approaches – based on your knowledge of your customers – are acceptable, we would like to suggest two other options: Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

Thanksgiving is a natural fit for business gift giving because it is a time of giving thanks to those who have partnered with you and trusted you with their business needs.

A New Year’s celebration gift is perfect for promoting goodwill and hopes of shared prosperity in the future. In either case, by delivering your gifts before or after the rush you stand out from the crowd and your gift and sentiment can be appreciated on its own merit.

Who to give to?
This question is often answered by considering four things – your budget, the number of clients, the size of those companies, and whether their company policy permits employees to receive gifts. Smaller companies are more likely to permit gifts. A quick inquiry to the HR department of larger companies can usually provide the information needed to avoid any misunderstandings.

Many businesses opt to give gifts to major clients only, or base the gift on a tier system according to the strength and frequency of interactions throughout the year. This is a very workable system, as long as multiple customers in the same company don’t receive vastly different gifts, leading to hurt feelings. In those instances a group or department gift may be the most appropriate present. As for budgets, if you give the same item to all of your customers it is quite likely a quantity discount may be offered, stretching your budget further.

What to give?
Obviously, it should be business appropriate. There is a line between personalized and personal. Personalized reflects the personality of the recipient, the giver, or the industry. Personal gifts are exactly that, and should be saved for personal friendships outside the workplace. Speaking of personalized, there are several thoughts on putting logos on gifts. Some people say it is the best way to keep your name in front of the customer year-round. Others believe it moves the gift into the category of self-promotion and should be avoided at this time of year. A good compromise would be to imprint a brief inspirational message or tagline rather than a logo. Or leave the item unmarked and “brand” it with an enclosed greeting card or packaging wrap. An exception would be if you have private labeled bottles or packages for edible goods. Have fun with the message on these and the use of your logo will come off as a signature, not an ad.

Food is a universal offering. It can be delivered to a single individual or shared among a large group. Cookies, fruit, nuts, jams, honey, snacks, and artisan olive oils and vinegars are just a few of the options available. Many come in pre-packaged in boxes or baskets, but if you want to take it up a notch there are also fun ideas like retro-style lunch boxes or, as mentioned previously, personalized labels on bottles and boxes. Items such as cutting boards, cheese servers, wine caddies and serving utensils can be a nice year-round gift.

It is no surprise that the other most popular corporate gift items are office and business themed. Anything related to electronic devices is going to be spot on. Universal rechargeable battery packs, all-in-one travel adapters, and portable speakers for phones and tablets are sure to be appreciated. Other items that bring personality to a business gift are perpetual calendars, desk calendars, coaster sets, and executive desktop puzzles.

There are, of course, simply too many other ideas to list here. If you would like to learn more about them please contact us at sales@flexpress.com. We are promotional/specialty item distributors and have access to thousands of items in any quantity and budget range and we will be happy to help you find the perfect gifts.

flexpress employees collageWe speak often of the new technology and top-of-the-line equipment we have here at Flexpress, but we know it doesn’t mean a thing without our great employees. We see the dedication our employees put into their jobs every day and want to send out a sincere “thank you!” to each one for all their hard work. From the technical savvy needed to run the equipment to the incredible ninja-like hand skills of our bindery crew as they assemble the detailed pieces we print, customer service and pride in a job well done is evident every step of the way.

We also want to thank our customers for partnering with us. We strive daily to deliver the best possible product as we work for you and with you. And, of course, our vendors deserve a big nod of appreciation for working hard to provide the equipment and materials we need to do our jobs.

It truly is a team effort and we hope everyone knows how much they are appreciated. Thanks to all, and have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Even as the temperatures hover near 100° again this week, we can’t help but look forward to fall. Fall means fun here in North Texas. Festivals and cook-offs, fundraisers and walks, sports, and back to school events all gear up to vie for our attention and time.

As luck would have it, we have the perfect solution for event organizers wanting to make a splash: custom labeled bottled water. Whether you resell them at school events and fundraisers, or offer them as marketing tools at trade shows and festivals, you can be sure they are a handy and attention-catching way to share your information. The label on our 16.9 ounce bottle measures a healthy 8.25 x 2.5 inches – plenty of space for a logo and message.

As digital printers we can produce jobs of any size with the greatest of efficiency and economy. Having a tailgate party and only need one case? No problem. Need multiple pallets for a trade show or big event? We can do that, too. From weddings to ongoing orders for organizations, businesses and Realtors®, the custom labels make a memorable impact.

Of course our famously quick turn time extends to the custom water bottles as well. We can often deliver as quickly as 5 working days from the time you approve your proof.

Have questions? You can always contact us at sales@flexpress.com, or better yet, if you’re in the area come by and we can discuss your needs over a nice cold bottle of water.Custom printed bottle water labels

school fundraising products

 

A recent story on a local news station highlighted the concerns of parents and school fundraisers brought about by the new federal and state food guidelines. With restrictions on the sale of high-fat or high-salt foods during the school day, the days of bake sales and selling snacks and candy to support extracurricular activities and organizations may be a thing of the past.

Although the ban is a blow to traditional fundraising, we don’t think it has to be death knell for fundraisers. As a matter of fact, it might turn out to be a great time to look at some fresh, updated ideas – to make healthy, non-fattening lemonade out of lemons, as it were.

There is no denying that food has always been an easy sell, but there are a number of non-food items that are in demand and can boost sales. At Flexpress, in addition to our usual printing services, we also have a world of ASI specialty and promotional items at our fingertips. School spirit and organization affiliation pride can be shown with any number of custom printed items. They range from inexpensive school supplies that any child can afford to more elaborate offerings and all can be customized with school logos, or team and organization names. Here are a few ideas that would be perfect for sale in school stores or by booster clubs:

School supplies
Although snacks have always been a big seller, there is also something to be said for the necessities. These ideas are great ways for students to show school spirit. From basic supplies such as pens, pencils, erasers, 3-ring binders, bound notebooks, notepads, pocket folders, calendars, student directories, lanyards, backpacks and lunch bags to tech accessories such as USB flash drives, phone chargers, tablet stands, mouse pads, iPhone cases, cell phone wallets and card holders there are options for every age and budget level.

Apparel
Printed t-shirts are always a great, inexpensive way to create a buzz. They are perfect for teams, clubs, supporters, and also as souvenirs of field trips and competitions. For schools with strict uniform dress codes, polo shirts with an embroidered logo are a perfect way for schools to raise funds throughout the year. And of course there are a wide selection of hats and caps, sweatshirts, windbreakers, socks, wristbands, – even shoelaces! – that can be custom imprinted.

Concession Stand Items
There are still healthy ways to fundraise in sports related concession stands. Custom labeled bottled water is a prime example and much more affordable than many people realize. There are also opportunities to sell value-added items such as plastic souvenir stadium cups, reusable plastic or aluminum water bottles, plastic baseball helmet ice cream bowls, and koozies.

Sports Specific Products
Golf balls, golf tees, golf pencils, spirit towels, mini footballs, folding chairs, umbrellas, noisemakers, fans, temporary tattoos, and stadium cushions are just a few items that can be custom printed and sold to help raise revenue for the teams.

Printed materials
Of course there are a number of ways to raise money with printed items. Decals, window clings, banners, buttons, flags, yard signs, bumper stickers, holiday cards, magnetic signs, bookmarks, event programs and guides are all our specialty and popular fundraising items.

We hope this list puts the worries to rest and shows there can be healthy alternatives that won’t put fundraising efforts on a crash diet. Contact us at sales@flexpress.com to discuss these and other ideas.

We celebrated PSI’s Take Your Dog To Work Day on Friday, June 20th and had a great time with our furry pals. It is a day to raise awareness of the many benefits of companion pets and encourage the adoption of shelter and recue dogs. Of course, as many of you who have visited our office know, every day is TYDTW Day here at Flexpress. Our Head Houndcho, Millie, is a permanent fixture in the office and others visit on occasion. They love turning on the charm in return for treats up and down the hall. But we have to admit, the dogs aren’t just here for their own benefit. We love having them here and they bring us benefits too. There’s just something about a wagging tail to put the world right.
Because it was a special day we had a hot dog luncheon to welcome Tank, Maggie and Jackie as they joined Millie at the office. Not all of our dogs were able to make it for the party so we printed special canvas prints of all their photos and hung them up for the festivities. It was almost like having them there as they watched over the buffet tables. We made a little video of the festivities and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

It’s true. With increasing postal costs, we encourage our customers to make the most of their mailings and correspondence by going beyond the typical one or two color envelope, and we do it for good reason – your correspondence faces a great deal of competition for attention. We know this because we print a lot of envelopes. Seriously. A lot. And it is no secret that the envelopes with extra color or “not-so-run-of-the-mill-paper” stock are the ones that stand out.

Envelopes aren’t just carriers for your marketing materials, they ARE marketing materials. They are, in many cases, the first piece people see from your company, so make that impression count. Extend your branding efforts to the envelope and take advantage of the space to tie in with the message of the marketing piece inside. A well-designed 4-color envelope is not only more likely to be opened first; it is more likely to be opened, period.

We believe in the power of color so much that we recently upgraded our 4-color envelope press. Now, more than ever, our envelope and letterhead press delivers top-tier color and crispness. It makes short work of any premade envelopes in sizes from A1 to 10” x 15” and is perfect for printing matching letterhead. It can handle a wide variety of stocks from classic wove and coated to felt, textured – even translucent papers. All so your envelope can say “Open me first!”

Below is a handy list of common envelope sizes we can print. Measurements are in inches. If you are interested in a size that isn’t listed, please feel free to contact us at sales@flexpress.com or call us at 972-980-2631. envelope size chart

Flexpress Digital celebrates 2014

We have a confession. Having the new year fall in the middle of the week provided a nice way to ease back into the routine after the holidays, but we are actually excited to begin the first “full” work week of 2014. We know, it sounds crazy – and maybe even a little masochistic – but the truth is, the latter part of 2013 saw us adding a number of new presses and services and we can’t wait to rev them up and go!

The big news, of course, is that we now have three Xerox iGen digital presses, and the newest addition is the biggest and fastest one yet. It can handle a whopping 14.33” x 26” sheet size with a printable area of 14” x 25.5”. It runs a speedy 150 pages per minute, making our quick turnarounds even quicker. The print quality is incredible, too, as it delivers improved detail and sharper images with even better color. We’ll save all the specs and a few of the details for another blog devoted just to this press. Believe us, it’s pretty special.

To complement our big presses we’ve also upgraded to a new 4-color envelope press. It makes short work of any premade envelopes in sizes from A1 to 10” x 15” and is perfect for printing matching letterhead. It can handle a wide variety of stocks from coated to felt and textured and even translucent papers.

On the opposite end of the size spectrum we’ve added a new wide format printer. It can print large banners, posters, canvas prints, and even custom wallpaper! Just think of the possibilities for branding your lobby or trade show booth with the materials it can print.

You’d think that would be enough new additions, right? Nope. We also added a new flood coating machine. It can give any printed piece a beautiful gloss coating or, if you prefer a softer touch, a matte/velvet coating. We’ve always been pleased with the quality our digital presses produce but when projects are coated they really pop.

And finally, we’ve also become an ASI (American Specialty Institute) member. That means in addition to being an affordable print source for our customers we are now also able to provide specialty and promotional items with the same value. From employee recognition awards to corporate gifts, or school fundraising items to trade show giveaways, we’ve got it. We are very excited to offer the convenience of this service to our customers. Be sure to give us a call and we will be glad to help you find just what you need.

So as you can see, we have a lot to look forward to in 2014. We love the new technology and can’t wait to put it to use. Providing quality and value is the reason we continue to upgrade and embrace changes. It’s how we stay on top and keep our customers right there with us. Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2014 for all!

Ahh, August – the official month of triple digit temperatures and back-to-school preparations. We can’t do much about the weather, but as band, football, cheer and drill teams begin their practices we do have some terrific ideas to aid Booster Clubs as they support these dedicated students.

As school budgets continue to tighten, it becomes more and more important for Booster Clubs to find ways to raise funds for trips, competitions and scholarships. At Flexpress we specialize in bestselling budget-friendly items that supporters want and need. Of course we can print sports program guides, posters, schedules, newsletters, concert and theater programs, and tickets but that is just the beginning. When it comes to calendars we can print a wide assortment, from pocket-sized to magnetic, or wall hangers to school-year organizers. Other popular fundraising items include decals, bumper stickers, window clings, and trading cards as well as yard signs and banners.

Want to grow school spirit? Just add water. When it comes to boosting school spirit and raising funds for your organization, few things can compete with the impact of custom labeled water complete with your own logo and name. Water is a great selling concession item at any event and – BONUS – the bottles can be “recycled” and reused as rattle noisemakers after the natural spring water is consumed.

Speaking of noisemakers, we have a new favorite that gets our vote for MVP. It does triple duty as a noisemaker, a sign, and a fan. The double-sided design has space for your school logo and slogan on each side, or you can always dedicate one side for sponsor ads to raise additional funds for your team or club.

Of course we can provide design services for all of the above, allowing Booster Club parents to find time for more important things, like watching and cheering on your favorite students. When it comes to promoting student excellence we are on your team! To find out more about these and other great promotional items to help support your group, please call or email us: 972 980 2631 or sales@flexpress.com.

Odds are, if you are a retailer, you are already trying to drive traffic to your website to place orders. Adding a QR Code to your mailing pieces simply adds one more way to direct customers there. And now, through August 31st, it can also garner you a 2% discount from the USPS.

The discount is available for qualifying Standard Mail and First-class Mail letters, flats, and cards imprinted with a 2-D code that can be read or scanned with a mobile device. There are, of course, requirements to follow in order to qualify for the discount. Those can be found at https://www.usps.com/mobile-barcode.

This is an especially good deal for retailers with catalogs and direct mail cards. Obviously, there is the immediate money savings on postage, but for goodness sake, don’t simply slap the code on your mail piece and call it good enough. Use this tool wisely and it will not only save you money, it can also generate sales. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:

1. Use good art.

The right placement, clarity and size are paramount to success… and failure. Nothing turns a customer off faster than being frustrated by a “convenience” that is anything but. Test the code on several different phones and tablets, if available, to make sure it works.

2. Make sure the customer knows what it is and how to use it.

Add a brief line about how/where to download the app and how to use it. It can be as simple as ”Scan this code with your smartphone using a QR Code Reader app.” Including a brief reason why they should scan is a big plus, too. That leads us to point #3…

3. Make it worth the customer’s effort.

A special offer, a promise of more details, registration for upcoming events, or an invitation to view and purchase the newest fashions are all handy incentives. The USPS discount offer is specifically for codes leading to web sites that allow shoppers to view and buy the products or services offered on the direct mail piece. But we would like to remind you that QR Codes can be used any time. And other fun ways to engage your customer include links to a video showcasing your expertise, or a downloadable song or app.

4. Be sure the code leads to a mobile device-friendly site.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but sites with Flash or those that aren’t optimized for quick viewing are doomed to annoy the very customer you are courting. And, to top it off, a non-optimized site may not qualify for the mail discount.

Using QR Codes in your direct mail is the perfect way to marry two marketing platforms to get better results. Let’s face it, search engines are great, but a potential customer often has to be aware a product or service exists before they can search for it. A well-designed direct mail piece can put you in front of potential customers who might not otherwise think of your business. A well-implemented QR Code can lead them to your site and turn prospects into customers. To paraphrase a famous leader, “We love it when a plan comes together!”

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