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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sign not big enough?

So, you've decided that you need to advertise - to get your name out there or announce something special - but a sign just isn't what you have in mind. You're thinking bigger, brighter or just plain showing off. OR (since we ALL want bigger, better and the opportunity to show off) why not all three? I have the perfect solution!

A banner is a great way to advertise and is an excellent addition to any social occasion or event. Banner designs can include photographs, artwork, fancy backgrounds, and company logos. In other words, any graphic image that can be captured in a computer file can be printed on a vinyl banner. Banners are resilient and last a long time either indoors or outdoors making them a smart investment. Vinyl banners can withstand tough weather conditions, their colors won’t fade under the heat of the sun, and their material won’t surrender to wind, water or snow. The great advantage of banners is that they are made of flexible and lightweight material. That means a vinyl banner can be rolled up or folded when it is time to take it down or move it to a new location. They are also relatively inexpensive. But most importantly - they get NOTICED! Banners are everywhere - event shows, store fronts, birthdays, graduations - you name it and chances are a banner, at one point or another, has advertised or announced it. If you want to captivate an audience, banners are simply the way to go.

The best place to find a source for vinyl banners is on the internet. A small number of companies specialize in providing low cost, fast-turn-around vinyl banners. One that I am more familiar with is They offer a variety of sizes to choose from as well as templates to get you started. If you already know what you want on your banner, then you can simply upload the file that contains your information. In a short time you will have a proof that allows you to see what your banner will look like before it is ever printed!

So - if you need to advertise a new business, a new location, a service, an event or a number of other possibilities where a yard sign just won't do - try a banner!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Printing: Back to Basics part 2 - Improving Image Resolution

One of the most commonly asked questions in relation to graphics software is how to increase the size of an image without getting blurring and jagged edges. New users are often surprised when they resize an image and find that the quality is severely degraded. In print projects, resolution is key. If the images that you include in a print project does not have high enough resolution, they will appear fuzzy, jagged, or blurry. The reason for the degradation is because bit mapped, or raster, image types are limited by their pixel resolution. When you attempt to resize these types of images, your software either has to increase the size of each individual pixel - resulting in a jagged image - or it has to "guess" at the best way to add pixels to the image to make it larger. Most printing companies require a minimum of 300 dpi for all images at the final print size. However, some printers require even higher resolution, so it's always a good idea to check with your printer on their recommended printing resolution. Generally, the higher the resolution of your image, the better the quality the image will be when printed.

So, you have an image you want (or need) to use but it doesn't meet the required dpi? What can you do?

First, you cannot use the common paint application that comes with Windows. Granted, you can do some basic editing of the image with this application, but it will not help you change the actual resolution of the image. In order to change the dpi, you will have to change the ppi (confused by ppi and dpi? click here). There are several software programs out that will allow you to do this but, for our purposes, I will concentrate on Photoshop. The most important thing to understand about resolution is the relationship between an image's resolution (ppi) and an image's print size (actual width and height -dpi). Pixels per inch (ppi) is often (although mistakenly) used interchangeably with dots per inch (dpi). Dots per inch (dpi) is a measurement describing the way an image is printed, scanned, or displayed on your monitor. For instance, you may scan an image at 300 dpi, print a 300 dpi image at 600 dpi, view it on your monitor at 72 dpi, but unless you resample it in Photoshop, the image will always have a resolution of 300 ppi.

Open an image in Photoshop. Go to the Image menu and select Image Size. This is where you can change an image's resolution and print size (width and height). The following Image Size dialog box will appear:

Note that the width and the height of the image as you view it on your monitor is not necessarily representative of the image's actual width and height — the size it would print out at (Print Size). Average monitor resolution is 72 dpi. If you view a 72 ppi image at 100% in Photoshop, chances are that it will appear on your screen in its actual print size. However, this is not true when viewing a 300 ppi image. A 300 ppi image viewed on-screen at 100% will be enormous. Don't get tricked into believing that what you see on your monitor is what you'll get when you print or place the image into another application. The only way to determine what your image's actual print size will be is through the Image Size dialog box.

When the Resample Image box is checked, any changes you make to an image's width or height will not change the image's resolution, and as such, any changes you make to an image's resolution will not affect the image's width and height. Keep in mind, however, when you increase width and height, or resolution, you are adding pixels to your image. These pixels don't actually exist so Photoshop must create them. As such, you will succeed only in degrading the quality of your image.

If you want to increase an image's width and height, or resolution, then uncheck the Resample Image box. Now any changes you make to the image's width and height will change the image's resolution, and vice versa:

  • If you decrease resolution, the width and height will increase
  • If you increase resolution, the width and height will decrease
  • If you increase the width or height, the resolution will decrease
  • If you decrease the width or height, the resolution will increase

The best way to increase the width and height of a scanned image is to scan the image in at a high resolution (about twice what your final resolution should be), and with the Resample Image box unchecked, decrease the resolution or increase the width and height—both will yield similar results. Once the image width and height is where you want it, you can then check the Resample Image box and type in the resolution you want. At this point, as long as you don't increase resolution, or width and height, your image quality will not suffer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Printing: Back to Basics

If you're creating artwork for print, you'll only get decent results if you've got a basic understanding of image resolution. Don't worry, it's actually quite a simple concept - nowhere near as complex as some people seem to think. So stick with me here, I'm going to try to make this as painless as possible...


Resolution is a concept that continues to baffle even graphic artists. In the context of editing photos, resolution is a measurement of the output quality of an image. The most common units to measure resolution include: PPI (pixels per inch), DPI (dots per inch), LPI (lines per inch), and SPI (samples per inch). For our purposes, we will focus on DPI and PPI because that is what you will be dealing with most often when printing photographs.

As you probably know, when you view a photograph on your computer monitor you're actually looking at a grid of tiny dots or 'pixels'. Similarly, when a photograph is reproduced in print, it is made up of thousands of small dots of ink. Resolution refers to the number of these dots (or pixels) which are squeezed into a given area. The smaller the dot, the more dots you can fit into a horizontal inch, and the sharper an image will appear to the human eye (up to a point).
If you zoom into a photograph on your PC monitor you will be able to see the grid of pixels which make up the image.

The resolution of an image is usually measured in dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). Essentially dpi and ppi refer to the same thing, it's simply the number of dots or pixels which make up an image. For more information on pixels see my earlier post Vector -VS- Bitmap: A basic breakdown.

If you view an image on your computer monitor its resolution will need to be at least 72dpi to appear sharp and clear. A lower resolution will result in large pixels which will be detected by your eye, resulting in a fuzzy or 'pixelated' image. However, if the same image were reproduced on paper using a commercial printing process it would need a resolution of around 300dpi to achieve a sharp result.

A printed image requires a much higher resolution than an on-screen image (4 times greater to be precise). Therefore, just because your image looks sharp and crisp when viewed on-screen, it doesn't mean it will reproduce correctly when printed.

Tune in Friday for how to improve the resolution of an image for printing!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Government Training to Spot Illegally-Posted Signs?

“Volunteers Wanted: Receive government training to learn how to spot illegally-posted signs in public rights-of-way, and have the authority to remove them. For information, contact the county government.”

In the greater D.C. metro area, such a posting may eventually be seen, though it is still months in the future. County Board members, on April 25, took another step in considering establishment of a corps of volunteers to remove signs in medians and in other public areas that have been posted improperly. However, before this idea can actually be implemented, there are a few things that need to be determined. Among them are:

* Is it actually a crime to remove an illegally-placed signs, and, if so, can the county change the law or does the state have to act?

* Can the local government permit the removal of signs on roads that are owned by the state government, a roster that includes many key thoroughfares in Arlington?

* If someone removes a sign that has been placed legally in a public area, or on private property, would they (or the county government) face a possible civil lawsuit for infringement of free speech?

County Board member Chris Zimmerman said the process should start by having the county government do a better job of pursuing those who post signs illegally, “if only to send them a nasty letter.” Then, the county government needs to figure out if it’s a criminal offense to remove a sign, and if so, whether it can be decriminalized, Zimmerman said.

The issue came to the forefront earlier this year, after a local resident was chastised by a judge after he continued to remove signs he claimed were posted illegally on public property (to read more on that story - and I recommend it- click here) and was charged with petty larceny, the "taking of the property of another without their permission." Since then, a small group has pushed board members to give local residents the ability to take down signs in county-owned rights-of-way. Currently, only county employees, and those who post the signs, have that right.

Chesterfield County (in Virginia) instituted a volunteer program to remove illegal signs from roads and rights of way within the county in June 2007. Since roads in Chesterfield County are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the county had to obtain permission from VDOT to police and remove the illegal signs. Once that agreement was executed, the county quickly created a program through which county residents can volunteer to assist in the cleanup efforts. Safety training is required for all volunteers and they made sure to note that citizens should not remove illegal signs except through this county sponsored program.

In closing, County Board members in the Greater D.C. metro area have some homework to do... but if actions in Chesterfield County, Virgina are any indication of what can be expected, residents will soon have the power to "legally" remove illegal signs from roads and rights of way.

As I see it, where one can do it... others will soon follow.


Information for this article was found here: Sun Gazette Chesterfield Connections The Washington Post

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tea Party Signs

Hello my fellow readers and bloggers. I do not generally delve into politics as I really don't have anything nice to say. However, as many of you know, there were 'Tea Parties' staged all over the nation last week and I have been wandering the net to see what most people were protesting.

As in the original Boston Tea Party, it appears that many of the protesters had a few things to say about the state of our financial crisis and the resulting tax increases... as well as the "loans" or bailouts that are meant to save some companies from bankruptcy. There are many who theorize that this event will lead to a growing spiral that might (just might) make congress open their eyes and really look at what the constitution has to say about our rights... and the fact that, right now, some of those rights are being casually stepped on. Then, of course, you have those who believe this 'Tea Party' was nothing more than an anti Obama rally and resulting anger will quickly dissipate and be a thing of the past. No matter which direction you see it from, the truth is that this money is coming out of our pockets. And while I can understand coming together to "bail out" the great U.S. of A, it wasn't the American public that buried us all in debt. Simply my opinion and I'll leave it there.

Getting back to the staged 'Tea Parties'-

As I wandered the wonderful world of internet pages and news, I saw many pictures and articles pertaining to events in different states and the resulting protest signs. Some were, quite frankly, lewd, while others... well... those I'll allow to speak for themselves...

Ahhhhh.... freedom of speech and from the mouths of babes! As much as I enjoyed the numerous signs floating around on the net for this mass protest, I have to say that these were ultimately my favorite. They protest the points simply, through innocent faces, and have more of an impact than all of the lewd signs I have run across. In my humble opinion, the first little girl and her sign make the loudest statement :-)


Images taken from the Huffington Post

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And The Verdict Is.....

Last October, John Toplikar, a former member of the Olathe City Council and former member of the Kansas House of Representatives, became infamous when Hayden's supporters videotaped the incumbent removing some of Hayden's campaign signs in broad daylight just 10 days before the election. The supporters put the video on YouTube. The incident then gained local and national attention. He was quoted as saying, "Now voters will have to decide whether political signs and the games people play with those signs are more important than the issues." Toplikar, who was cruising to re-election, suddenly lost the support of many voters. The YouTube-broadcast incident called into question Toplikar's integrity and less than two weeks later, Toplikar lost his re-election bid by 42 votes.

On April 14, 2009, former Johnson County Commissioner John Toplikar accepted an agreement from the Olathe city prosecutor and will receive diversion for stealing his opponent's campaign signs in October. Toplikar will serve 12 months probation, and at the end of that time, if he stays out of trouble, the prosecutor will dismiss the misdemeanor theft charge. The diversion agreement was made final Friday, according to court records, after his Olathe Municipal Court hearing was delayed five times while both sides came to an agreement.

So, it appears that sign stealing is now worth a slap on the wrist for politicians! Which, when weighed against , say, a college professor, who only last year faced 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $1000.00 for stealing 8 McCain/Palin yard signs (though admitted only 3 to police), seems like a mockery. Why, you ask, does this 1 year probation sound like a mockery? Diversion is not probation. You don't actually report to anyone. As long as you don't get into trouble during the 12 month period, the charge disappears. In effect, a mockery.

It would seem to me that those who are in the public eye, in such high standing, would be those from whom higher standards would be expected. The fact that he lost the election must have been crushing... the fact that politicians can steal signs without any real punishment, must have been enlightening. I have to wonder what type of signal this sends to other political hopefuls with sign stealing intentions.


Information for this article was found at:
Northfield News

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Great Sign Debate - Update

Wednesday, March 18th, a divided Los Angeles Planning Commission failed to overhaul the city's billboard law with some members saying a proposed sign ordinance grants too many exceptions to the outdoor advertising industry. The panel, which needed five votes to send a rewritten sign law to the City Council, deadlocked on a series of 4-3 votes.

The Los Angeles Planning Commission re-voted Thursday, March 26th to recommend dramatically reworked restrictions on signs that would ban digital billboards and super graphics -- the vinyl signs stretched across the sides of buildings -- throughout most of the city.The commission voted 6 to 3 to forward the ordinance to the City Council, which is expected to vote on the measure by June, when a temporary sign moratorium is set to expire. The council hopes to approve the billboard rules before June, when a six-month sign moratorium expires. Planning officials already are reviewing requests from council members and real estate developers for seven billboard districts in such areas as Mid-City, Hollywood and Universal City. The proposed law also would allow certain exceptions to the city's sign rules for development projects that are larger than 100,000 square feet. Voting against the measure were commissioners Michael Woo, Cindy Montanez and Father Spencer Kezios. Last week, they voiced dismay that the plan provided too many exceptions for new signs.

Under the proposal, most new signs in Los Angeles -- including "sale" signs painted on storefront windows and gas station pole signs -- would be significantly smaller than those currently allowed, half the size in some cases. Signs and billboards that already have city permits would not be affected by the measure.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Great Sign Debate

Picture by Kirk McKoy, Los Angeles Times

The great sign debate continues in Los Angeles! Not sure I’m too surprised by that after they extended the moratorium until today (March 26) in December of 08’ then extended it again until May 10th on February 24, 09’. However, the ICO [Interim Control Ordinance] still expires today and, according to a statement from Councilman Jack Weiss' office in February, if the ICO is allowed to lapse for even one day, "a flurry of illegal signs could be installed and be nearly impossible to remove later." As parts of the battle play out in court, complicated by free-speech questions, billboard companies have rushed to put up as many new signs as they can. The result is a legal and political mess.

“In recent weeks, fueled by anger about what public officials have allowed opportunistic billboard companies to get away with, the Great Signage Debate has become L.A.'s version of the AIG bonus scandal, with political posturing to match. Fresh drama is likely to unfold this morning, when the Planning Commission meets in Van Nuys to try to break its recent deadlock, pass a new sign ordinance and send it along to the City Council (Christopher Hawthorn, March 26, 2009).”

Because I recently blogged about this in Moratorium extended on digital signs in L.A., I thought I would share L.A.’s great signage debate by Christopher Hawthorn which was printed in the Los Angeles Times today. It is a more philosophical look at the mess surrounding this debate and the reasons behind it.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sign Ordinance Changes in Rockford for Campaign Season

In Rockford, Illinois, the Rockford Park District has amended the sign ordinance it previously adhered to regarding political sign placement. By law, the Park District must allow political signs on its property; however, several provisions were added to address the many questions that have been raised every campaign season. Some ordinance amendments included:

Signs placed so as to interfere with regularly-scheduled lawn mowing or other maintenance, may be removed by the Rockford Park District staff or designees, as may be reasonably necessary for such mowing or other maintenance.

There may be no more than two signs for any candidate per site.

The signs must be removed within 48 hours following the election, and any signs remaining after that time may be disposed of by Rockford Park District.

All such advertising shall comply with applicable municipal ordinances such as City of Rockford, City of Loves Park and Village of Cherry Valley. Exception being the sign can be no larger than 10 square feet in area on one side.

The current Park District advertising restrictions permit removing signs if they do not comply with these guidelines. The Park District does not allow signs to be placed on any structure or thing such as buildings, existing signs, fences, poles, or trees. The signs cannot interfere with the intended use of the park or enjoyment of a particular park property, such as the playing areas of softball fields, golf courses, soccer fields, or in gardens and landscaped areas such as the Rose Garden and boulevards. Park District staff will notify the candidates campaign headquarters if anything is not in compliance with the ordinance.


For a PDF copy of this information, click here.
Information for this article was taken from WREX, WFIR, and the Rockford Park Districts 100NewsRelease.
For more information, please contact Tim Dimke at 815-987-8800 or send an email to

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's a sign!

SO... this is a bit of a change from my general blog posts but, seeing as the sign was just too funny to pass up, I couldn't help myself.

All people tend to engage in a bit of moaning and groaning on occasion... even a little bit of self pity... but when it gets to the point that they can share only the moaning, groaning, and self pity with the world, they have officially engaged in whining.

Wouldn't it be great to have a sign like this posted? Think about it... the whining begins - all you have to do is point to the sign like a librarian on a silence mission and wait. The whiner will either be affronted that you have had the audacity to actually point the sign out (in which case a deep silence will ensue), or the whiner will stop whining. In either case, you are once again granted peace of mind. :-P


Monday, March 16, 2009

Las Vegas Icon

The famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign has moved one step closer to being placed in the National Register of Historic Places. The state board of museums on Friday nominated the sign for placement on the list managed by the National Park Service.

After a meeting of the state Board for Museums and History in Carson City, paperwork to include the sign can move forward, county spokesman Erik Pappa said. The sign could be included as soon as May.

“This sign has become a very important symbol for our community,” Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid, whose district includes the sign, said in a statement. “Untold thousands have had their photos taken in front of the sign. Placing the sign in the National Register makes eminent sense, especially now during the county’s centennial year.”

In its application, the county argues the neon sign is a cultural icon and a notable example of modern architecture. The county cites the sign's historic significance as an icon of post-World War II entertainment, tourism and advertising industries. It says the sign is "an excellent example of Exaggerated Modern/Googie architecture" and notes that designer Betty Whitehead Willis was a Las Vegas native who had a respected career as a graphic designer. The sign was created in 1959. It reads “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” on the front and “Come Back Soon” on the back.


Original story by Cara McCoy
Las Vegas Sun
Fri, Mar 13, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Battle of the Signs

A church group and an atheist group in Madison, Wisconsin, are taking their rivalry on the road. It appears that both groups are currently using ad space on Madison Transit buses in what I call the "Battle of the Signs". This, however, isn't an entirely new phenomenon. Beginning on February 9th, three Christian groups in London launched advertisements on more than 200 buses in response to a month long campaign that began January 6th by atheists, agnostics and other nonbelievers that saw 800 London buses plastered with a less God-fearing slogan: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation appears to be following in the footsteps of the Londoners by spending $2,100 on six signs appearing for up to two months inside 50 buses. Each sign has a quotation questioning religion or giving reasons for not believing. The Foundation is concentrating on interior bus advertising because it is more affordable than exterior ads, and permits more meaningful messages.

"Interior bus signs have the benefit of a 'captive audience' of bored passengers, so we hope riders in Madison will find our signs diverting," added Gaylor.

A quote from the late actress Butterfly McQueen, famous for her typecast role as "Prissy" in the movie, "Gone with the Wind," says, "As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion."

A four-line poem by Emily Dickinson is also featured.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has created many adds featuring people such as Richard Dawkins (author of the blockbuster bestseller, The God Delusion), Clarence Darrow, Katharine Hepburn, and a cryptic quote from "Puddinhead Wilson" by Mark Twain as well as Butterfly McQueen and EMily Dickinson.

In response to the ads, Pilgrims Covenant Church in Monroe said this week it purchased space on the outside of 11 Metro Transit buses for an ad quoting Psalm 14, verse 1: "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."

The church's ads, costing about $5,000, cover a large part of one side of each bus. The Rev. Ralph Ovadal said the foundation has a right to air its opinion, and the church has "the privilege to respond with truth from the word of God."

Madison Metro spokesman Mick Rusch said any ad sales help the bus system.

Similar atheist campaigns have run in Barcelona, Madrid and Washington, D.C. But since its Jan. 6th launch, the London scheme has been credited with inspiring atheist bus campaigns in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany and Italy, where next month posters in Genoa will read, "The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that we do not need him."

Campaigns between atheist groups and church organizations have been an ongoing thing since as far back as I can recall. It should not be shocking that they would take this type of war into the public scene. What does shock me is the blatant "in your face" way they are going about it. Being in the sign industry I take pride in the work we do and the accomplishments we can help others achieve with our products. In a situation such as this however, I find I can only hang my head. Perhaps I am simply biased in the belief that a persons religion is their own to determine...

In any case, signs are the name of the game so let the "Battle of the Signs" commence! I bet this sign is bigger anyway and, not only is it much more magical, it's the largest wrap in Vegas :-)


For more information on the story above, please refer to these links:
The Chicago Tribune
TIME World News
Wisconsin State Journal

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Realtor Wars Caught on Camera!

I was perusing the recent blog posts for yesterday and today, and came across the piece below. As many people know, especially during election time, yard signs tend to grow legs and walk away, get torched, or vandalized in many different ways. Most of the time, there really isn't much that authorities can do to combat this type of behavior because they generally don't have evidence as to who the vandalizing party is. Art Mullen, of South Mills, North Carolina, decided to take extra measures and caught his vandal on camera...

A Fort Mill real estate agent ended up in handcuffs after he was allegedly caught on tape cutting down a competitor's business sign.

"Shows him vandalizing the sign, stomping down the sign, that's when I called the authorities," said realtor Art Mullen.

NewsChannel 36 cameras were there when deputies with the York County Sheriff's Office took real estate agent Daniel LaFranca Jr. into custody Monday afternoon. The deputies were serving a damage of property warrant.

"Were you vandalizing your competitor's signs?" we asked LaFranca as deputies escorted him into a squad car.

"Not at all," LaFranca responded.

However, Mullen says his hidden camera video solved a five-month mystery.

"I've had a lot of my signs go ahead getting cut up, stolen, vandalized and I never really knew who it was," Mullen said. "I was frustrated. So what I did is I had some friends and some colleagues, we set up video surveillance."

Mullen claims the surveillance video shows his former boss, LaFranca, using a box cutter to slash his sign.

"He signed a non-compete clause with my company," LaFranca told us of Mullen.

Mullen says he's done nothing wrong and has had hundreds of signs either stolen or damaged after he stopped working for LaFranca.

"We didn't leave in the best of terms," Mullen said. "I made a lot of money in that company."

LaFranca denies wrongdoing.

"That's not you on video?" we asked LaFranca.

"Not that I know of," he responded.

Mullen says it's the ugly side of business during struggling housing market.

"I think it's a sign of the times," said Mullen.

The York County Sheriff's Office told NewsChannel 36 LaFranca wouldn't face jail time, but if found guilty he could end up paying a fine.


Original story by MARIO ROLDAN
NewsChannel 36 Posted: Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Do as I say and not as I do?

Everything from hot air balloon rides and hired painters, to health clubs and real estate opportunities were being advertised on the cardboard, paper and plastic signs. Some had specific dates that had passed long ago and other signs were for companies that no longer existed, according to Rose Ann Lafferty, zoning officer for the township.

More than 1,000 signs that had been littering the townships roadways were cleaned up last week. Mayor Matthew Lyons said they were violating township codes and he ordered they be removed. Lyons said the signs were violating a section of the township's code, which bans any portable signs in all zoning district, signs attached to public utility poles and trees, homemade signs "that are not professional in appearance," and signs that advertise businesses not located in the township.

"These signs were creating blight in the community," Lafferty said. "After the cleanup the response from residents has been fantastic."

Four township employees spent eight hours each taking down the signs from grassy areas and telephone polls, according to Jeff Moore, the township's director of technology and constituent services. He said this was just a cleanup, but "If there are repeat offenders noticed, there will be steps made to take action."

There has been a lot of these type of stories from many different townships over the last several months. It would appear that many towns and counties are cracking down farther on signage. I realize that this has been an issue for a while now but, despite the sign ordnance codes, signs have continued to be a necessary evil when it comes to promoting business. So I pose this question with the hope that you, the readers, can give me an answer that makes some sense:

Why is it that in an economy that is so obviously in need of all the help it can get, are townships pulling down and throwing away necessary advertising? Now wait... because this is a two part question. Why is it that other such signs used in advertising political figures are given a unanimous okay and allowed to clutter the landscape? Which signs do the most good here? The ones that promote a business or service and helps bring money into the economy... or the signs that promote a political figure that, once in office, will conveniently forget all the promises they made about strengthening that same economy? Hmmmmm... something to ponder. Now, don't get me wrong. I understand that there should be limits to this sort of signage all around... otherwise our roadways would look like dumps. And I completely agree that this same signage should be professional in appearance and removed after a period of time. But you never hear of political figures being fined for leaving their signs out for six months after an election is over. Is this just another case of do as I say and not as I do? I don't have the answer to that question but I would hope that, in future, sign ordnance codes will allow for equality in advertising.


Original story By Jessica Beym.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Operation Clean Sweep!

Operation "Clean Sweep" (as I like to call it), was enacted on February 28, 2009, by Pete Constant and a group of volunteers partnered with code enforcement to sweep the neighborhoods of San Jose clean of signs.

"No signs are allowed on the city's property or on telephone poles regardless of the message," said Matthews, the code enforcement division manager. After fielding countless complaints about signs in his constituents' neighborhoods, one city councilman recently decided to take matters into his own hands. More than 80 students, parents and members of the surrounding neighborhood associations, scoured the streets to get rid of temporary signage such as "garage sale" signs, "open house" signs, "for sale" signs, etc. The group removed more than 300 signs.

This was the first organized sweep ever conducted by a public-private partnership in San Jose to address a community concern. Though volunteers had never been utilized in such an action, it is apparent that they were up to the task and willing to answer the call. This poses a question: How many more community partnerships might be called for in future? And where? With ordnance codes becoming stricter as time goes by, this author is left to wonder where companies will find themselves standing when it comes to affordable advertising. Though sign ordnances differ with each city, county or state, there has always been a way for wily businesses to skirt the edges and advertise their services and/or products with this type of cheap signage. I have to wonder if this type of community sweep will become a catchy thing for other neighborhoods. If so, I'm afraid that the average small businesses public exposure will become severely limited.


Original story: San Jose neighbors hit the streets in search of illegal signs
By Tiffany Carney
West San Jose Resident
Posted: 03/03/2009 06:15:34 PM PST

Monday, March 2, 2009

Neighborhoods oppose bright LED signs near homes

Some neighborhood activists are appalled by LED signs such as this outside ACE Hardware on Highway 100. Many council members, however, think that some places should be allowed to have the signs to get attention along busy streets.

Photo by: Josh Anderson/ For the Tennessean


The possibility that electronic signs will go up in residential areas of Nashville has neighborhood groups feeling anxious again, a year after a Metro Council proposal fell by the wayside. Though the council bill to let churches and schools put up light-emitting diode signs in residential zoning districts was deferred indefinitely last March, it inspired the creation of a task force to study sign issues and recommend changes. The task force, appointed last summer, is now close to finishing its work and submitting legislation to the council. Members of the panel, which will meet at least one more time, said much of their work has focused on LED signs, the kind used by some banks, chain drugstores, auto dealerships and other businesses.

while some folks like Councilman Charlie Tygard still believe churches and schools should be able to post the signs in certain situations, Trish Bolian, a member of the task force, is considerably against such a notion... as are many others.

"We could look like a neon Christmas tree overnight. Who needs to put a sign up that there's a PTA meeting Tuesday at 7?" she said. "There are other ways to communicate."

"An awful lot of citizens believe LED contributes to the so-called visual clutter we'd all like to minimize," said Allen, who lives in the Hillsboro-West End area.

While it is apparent that these signs can draw in passing motorists, it is even more so that such signs may begin to go the way of the Dodo in Nashville. It is still unclear as to what changes will go into effect, but the task force intends to find a way for the Metro Codes Administration to fully enforce compliance with the existing sign laws but Sonny West, Metro's zoning administrator, said it's difficult for the undermanned Codes staff to force business owners to obey the law at all times.


For more information on this story, please click here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Vector -VS- Bitmap: A basic breakdown

When creating signs with images or logos, designers prefer what is known as a vectored graphic. There are two major types of 2D graphics. These are Vector and Bitmap images.

Bitmap-based images are comprised of pixels in a grid. Each pixel or “bit” in the image contains information about the color to be displayed. Bitmap images have a fixed resolution and cannot be resized without losing image quality. Common bitmap-based formats are JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PNG, PICT, and BMP. Resolution refers to the number of pixels in an image and is usually stated as dpi (dots per inch) or ppi (pixels per inch). Bitmap images are displayed on your computer screen at screen resolution: approximately 100 ppi.


Key Points About Bitmap Images:
• pixels in a grid
• resolution dependent
• resizing reduces quality
• easily converted
• restricted to rectangle
• minimal support for transparency

Common bitmap formats include:
• PICT (Macintosh)
• PSD (Adobe Photoshop)

Vector graphics are made up of many individual, scalable objects. Each of these objects can be defined by mathematical statements rather than pixels and has individual properties assigned to it such as color, fill, and outline. Vector graphics are resolution independent because they can be output to the highest quality at any scale. Changing the attributes of a vector object does not effect the object itself. You can freely change any number of object attributes without destroying the basic object. Because they’re scalable, vector-based images are resolution independent. You can increase and decrease the size of vector images to any degree and your lines will remain crisp and sharp, both on screen and in print. Fonts are a type of vector object.


Key Points About Vector Images
• scalable
• resolution independent
• no background
• cartoon-like
• inappropriate for photo-realistic images
• metafiles contain both raster and vector data

Common vector formats include:
• AI (Adobe Illustrator)
• CDR (CorelDRAW)
• CMX (Corel Exchange)
• CGM Computer Graphics Metafile
• WMF Windows Metafile

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Moratorium extended on digital signs in L.A.

On December 17, 2008 Los Angeles enacted a ban on digital billboards and supergraphics. Today I found out that they extended the ban on Tuesday for 45 more days, pledging to adopt tougher penalties for illegal signs. It appears that the ban will continue to be in effect until at least late March in order to give the city more time to update the city’s sign ordinance. The original moratorium, which was set to expire on March 26, was approved in December following a citizen uproar over a flurry of new digital billboards and supergraphics, especially on the Westside, Hollywood and parts of the San Fernando Valley as well as years of court challenges and political maneuvering that have undermined existing billboard regulations. Council members said city staff needed more time to craft regulations that could withstand court challenges from the sign industry, which has been successful in the past in blocking stricter regulation.

Since the moratorium was passed, several new billboards and supergraphics have appeared, some of which have been taken down after protests from residents and city officials. Last week, the city Planning Commission delayed a vote on a new ordinance for a month to give neighborhood groups, merchants and the sign industry more time to comment. That prompted the council to extend the moratorium until May 10.

"The ICO [Interim Control Ordinance] will expire on March 26, 2009, but the legislative process to approve changes to the City’s sign ordinances may not be completed by March 26. If the ICO is allowed to lapse for even one day, "a flurry of illegal signs could be installed and be nearly impossible to remove later," stressed a statement from Councilman Jack Weiss' office. According to the Los Angeles daily news, there should be twenty inspectors working full time on the inventory. Councilman Bill Rosendahl said that once the inventory is complete, a new sign ordinance should be passed that imposes heavy fines on companies that erect illegal or non-permitted billboards.

Councilman Jack Weiss said the report is overdue.

"Make no mistake: This city is suffering under an onslaught - not just from billboards, but the supergraphics that are wrapping themselves around tall buildings," Weiss said. "The architecture of this city is devolving into advertising."

Councilman Dennis Zine suggested considering use of the Community Redevelopment Agency to pressure landlords in redevelopment areas - particularly in downtown and Hollywood - to refuse to allow their buildings to be used for the massive signs. Council President Eric Garcetti, whose district includes Hollywood, said he has worked to close loopholes in development agreements that allowed the signs to proliferate.

A number of developers and business representatives urged the council not to adopt the moratorium, especially on the vinyl super-graphics that stretch across sides of buildings, arguing that the income from those ads was critical to their bottom line. In 2002, officials approved a ban on outdoor advertising and sought to inspect and create an inventory of all the billboards in the city. At the time, the department of building and safety estimated there were 10,000 billboards in Los Angeles – with an undetermined number of them lacking permits and illegal.

Clear Channel Outdoor and CBS Outdoor, two of the largest billboard companies in the city, filed suit, arguing that the restrictions were in part an infringement on their 1st Amendment rights. In 2006, they reached a settlement with Delgadillo – later approved by the council and Villaraigosa – that allowed 840 of their billboards to be “modernized” and upgraded to digital displays. The city thus far has issued permits allowing 95 billboards to be converted to digital displays. Those settlements have since been criticized as a giveaway to the billboard companies and for undercutting the city’s attempt to restrict digital billboards proposed by other outdoor advertising companies.

It appears that the council will have another fight on it's hands soon. Clear Channel Outdoor warned the council before the vote that it might take legal action to block the ban. Given the litigious history of the billboard companies in Los Angeles – the city faces more than 25 lawsuits filed by outdoor advertising companies challenging restrictions on the signs – city officials said they expected a court challenge.

You can find more information on this story by clicking these links:
LA Times
The Digital Outsider
Add Tech

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mullet Place Street: Signs the mullet lives on

The hairstyle is short on the top and long in the back, and in Green Bay the mullet has it's very own street signs — at least when the signs haven't been stolen.

Mullet Place may not be named for the kind of hair design that became popular a few decades ago, but fans apparently like to grab the signs anyway because they disappear several times a year.

"We've gone through a lot of Mullet Place signs," said Chris Pirlot of the city Public Works Department. "My only guess is that people are still in love with the '70s and '80s when the mullet haircut was prominent. I don't know."

At times, every sign on the two-block street has been gone, frustrating some residents.

"When you tell somebody directions how to get to your place, you've got to tell them it's the third road on the left, because there's no sign to tell them how to get to Mullet Place," said Richard Fleischfresser.

The city has attempted to stop the thievery by mounting the signs beyond anyone's reach, about 20 feet from the ground.

Pirlot said it costs $100 each to replace the signs.

Stealing one can cost a lot more. Police say anyone caught taking a street sign can be fined $361 for theft plus $676 for criminal damage to property.

That’s a lot for a mullet! I dug and dug with the hope of finding a picture of this most coveted sign, but alas… it was a loss.


Information from: WLUK-TV,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Madison plans to update their 27-year-old sign code

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the town of Madison will be reviewing, revising and updating their sign code. It has taken them 12 years to arrive at this decision. The city has been working on the revision since 1997, when former Mayor Sue Bauman created a special staff team to address a problem with the number of ground signs allowed on zoning lots. The update has taken years due to changes in staff, UDC membership and other priorities such as the new Downtown plan and overhaul of the zoning code, officials said. Though this process has taken 12 years to get underway, it appears that they are really adamant about making the changes happen.

The update seeks to strike a balance between First Amendment rights, fast-changing technology, creativity and visual pollution. The attempt to allow more creativity will help, Woods said. "If it's a good looking sign, we'll approve it." However, there will still be strong restrictions on electronic message boards and the code for billboard signs will remain the same. It appears that, when it comes to electronic message boards, there seems to be mixed opinions. While some seem to think the signs are a tremendous tool for businesses, there have been many who disagree.

"Signs should be about identification, not advertising," Barnett said, noting that some members of the UDC would like to prohibit message boards. "The boards are also visually distracting," he said.

"I personally don't see the need for them," said UDC chairman Bruce Woods, a landscape architect. “Some flash advertisements for things like six rolls of toilet paper for 99 cents. Do we really need to know that?"

Despite the controversy over electronic signage, I am glad to see that some cities are willing to re-address the sign codes. For many cities and states the sign codes are down right difficult to comprehend, not to mention highly restrictive. And yet others have banned the use of certain types of signage all together. Where the sign codes in this little town may mean nothing to many others, in the sign industry we can see it as a small step into the light. Hopefully, where one might lead, others will be willing to follow.


For more information on this story, click here. Original story by Dean Mosiman of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Hacked Signs

On January 29th of this year, I posted concerning a hacker who changed the message on a digital road sign. Well, it appears someone else decided that (post: Inside Programmable Road Signs on Tuesday, 20 January 2009) had a great idea. In Lubbock , TX. a copy cat changed a digital sign at the loop and spur of 327 to read "OMG the British are coming." Then flashed to, "They are watching you." Originally the sign told motorists that the Frankford exit was the next right. While some motorists found the sign to be humorous, TxDOT says this could be a third degree felony, for which the punishment is 2-10 years of imprisonment or up to a $10,000.00 fine.

On Tuesday during the morning rush hour near Collinsville, Ill., a hacker changed a sign to read, “Daily lane closures due to zombies.”

A day earlier in Hamilton County, Ind., an electronic board in a construction zone warned drivers of “Raptors ahead — Caution.”

And signs in Austin, Texas, recently flashed: “Zombies in area! Run.” "NAZI ZOMBIES! RUN!!!" And "Zombies Ahead."

For several hours Monday, a message board along a road-widening project in Chico, a college town about 90 miles north of Sacramento, read "CHUCK NORRIS FOR PRESIDENT."

A member of the Jalopnik team (who also posted a step-by-step instructions about how to hack these signs) posted this: "We told you yesterday not to play with the electronic road signs. Still, we're proud of you guys — mostly because it's the first time we've seen the zombie meme making it to the mainstream media. And the Today Show no less. Yay."

You can follow this link to see an assortment of signs these steps have created -

I still stand by my earlier ascertains that this type of thing is merely humorous and not life threatening to the drivers who read it. However, considering I don't carry $10,000.00 worth of change around with me, I won't be out staking my claim on a digital sign any time soon. For more information on these stories:

Click here to visit News Channel 11, KCBD.

Click here to visit news channel WIBC.

Click here to read about the Chuck Norris sign.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Huntington Beach sign spinners

According to the LA Times, Huntington Beach has stuck to it's guns when it comes to sign spinners.

Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Carlos Soto, left, and Ricardo Marin spin signs in Costa Mesa. Huntington Beach officials say the practice is too distracting to drivers, and one city councilman calls the ads “a form of visual blight.”

The recent economic decline caused the Huntington Beach Planning Commission to revisit the ban they had previously placed on sign spinners. while the planning commission supported allowing the sign spinners, City Council members weren't convinced. It appears that the drop in sales and the decline of employment wasn't enough to convince Surf City officials that sign spinning might be a boon right now. According to Surf City officials, "the twirlers, many equipped with flashy moves or costumes, are just too distracting to drivers". And Councilman Don Hansen, whom described sign twirlers as "a form of visual blight," claimed that "The signs are just getting larger and almost more obnoxious. I hope we're not leveraging our hope of economic growth on the backs of the sign-twirling industry," Hansen said. "I don't think that's our way out; I don't think that's the job that most folks are pinning their hopes on."

Whether hopes are pinned on such jobs are not, it would seem that it simply isn't in the cards for Huntington Beach residents and neither is this cheap form of advertising. Personally, I would think that anything with the remote possibility of helping the community survive - the city thrive and flourish- should become a tolerated possibility. In these trying and lean times every dollar counts. If that means staring at gorillas on street corners or watching Lady Liberty wave, I'd say it's a small price to pay.


For the whole story visit the LA Times.
Original story by Susannah Rosenblatt
February 6, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Funny Signs in England

What if you had to live in a town called Crapstone? or Pratts Bottom? OR, worse yet, Penistone? What if you lived on Butt Hole Road? How would you answer the question of, "What's your address"? Would you blush as the words left your lips? Mumble it out and hope the listener understood? Wish with all your might that you lived somewhere else but proudly proclaim the name? Well, in England they seem to have a wealth of such town names and luridly funny street names, as well as a healthy mix of opinions. But, being that I am centered around the sign industry, it is the actual signs themselves that leave me breathless with mirth.

Though the residents have varied and tactful responses to Sarah Lyall, a reporter with The New York Times, I can only imagine (and cringe at) their embarrassment. Had it been I that was questioned, I would have quickly slunk off to a hidden corner and remained there till I was sure all had gone home. However, it appears that, despite any embarrassment, residents of such towns enjoy the humorous aspect and the double entendres of the names. I suppose it makes more sense if you picture a pub in England where the old timers sit around drinking a beer or two while reminiscing about good old days in Spanker Lane or Wetwang. How pleasantly quaint! Just the thought causes my lips to quirk in a smile.

The fact is, no matter how you envision such obtuse and politically incorrect verbiage, you have to admit that it certainly gives people something to talk about! What better way to spend the day than taking a hike down Butt Hole Road, Fanny Avenue, Willey Lane, Titty Ho or Asshouse Lane with a few of your closest friends? Or spending the day taking in the sites of Crapstone? Come on now... you know you want to laugh... go ahead... we won't tell!

For more information on lurid and politically incorrect street names and towns, Ed Hurst, a co-author with Rob Bailey, of “Rude Britain: The 100 Rudest Place Names in Britain” and “Rude UK: 100 Newly Exposed British Back Passages, Streets, and Towns,” gives you more than you could possibly imagine. In "Rude Britain", Rob Bailey and Ed Hurst take readers on a delightful stroll up Lickers Lane to Honey Knob Hill, peek into Beaver Close and enjoy a well-deserved sit down in the delightful Dorset hamlet of Shitterton. Then, after a year touring around the bestselling "Rude World", Rob and Ed have decided to return to dear old Blighty. The result is a triumphant homecoming tour that has uncovered 100 more delightfully rude British place names to treasure, from the hidden charms of Slack Bottom and Fanny Street to an unforgettable glimpse of Cocking. Filled with photographs of actual road signs and the fascinating etymological origins of every featured place name, this delightfully rude book is laugh-out-loud funny though the authors are keen to stress that it is all perfectly innocent (, 2008).


Further information on this story can be found in The New York Times By SARAH LYALL. Published: January 22, 2009 .

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Zombies Ahead!

Here in Austin, Texas, the moto is "Keep Austin Weird". We pride ourselves on standing out :-)
But one person in particular stood out so much that his/her words were put in lights. On January 19th a portable traffic sign at Lamar Boulevard and West 15th Street, near the University of Texas at Austin, was hacked into. This hacker happily announced to the driving public that there were "Zombies Ahead".

On his drive in to work
Chris Lippincott, director of media relations for the Texas Department of Transportation, got his first look at the warning sign. His reply? "It was clever, kind of cute, but not what it was intended for." I like to think he got a pretty good chuckle as well.

According to the blog (post: Inside Programmable Road Signs on Tuesday, 20 January 2009), some commercial road signs, including those manufactured by IMAGO's ADDCO division, can be easily altered because their instrument panels are frequently left unlocked and their default passwords are not changed. AND they supply a play by play as to exactly how these signs can be hacked and how to reset the default password. Oops! Watch out zombies! Something worse might be coming!

ADDCO Chief Operating Officer Brian Nicholson told that the company intends to send out notices to their customers regarding the potentially dangerous security flaw. As of yet, Austin officials do not know the identity of the hacker but I firmly believe that the hacker is none other than the person who placed the post on i-hacked. Add one and one... you will generally get two.

As an Austinite, I simply find it funny. Sure, hackers could pull some potentially catastrophic trick with these things but, in the interest of "Keeping Austin Weird", alerting drivers of the danger of Zombies Ahead is a small drop in the bucket.

For more information about this story, you can visit and the link for i-Hacked.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Blog Tag!

Tagged by :

Okay... so here's the rules:

  • Link your original tagger. (Check)
  • List these rules on your blog. (check)
  • Share 7 facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird. (Check)
  • Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs. (check)
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter. (check)

Now that I'm it, I suppose it's time for the random facts!

1. My mother named me Gwendolyn Dawn just so she could call me Wendy. Everyone knows its Wendy... :-)

2. I have 4 birds and they have this annoying habit of chatting while I'm trying to watch TV. All other times they're as quiet as mice. I think they just love the TV. Then again, they may be trying to intimidate the TV. Who knows?

3. I have lived in approximately 43 states. At this point, moving anywhere is a thought that causes me to shiver in fear.

4. My fingers are double jointed. I can twist them, pull them all the way to the back of my hand, and touch my nose while sticking out my tongue. Oh, wait... that didn't really apply did it?

5. Disney movies make me cry. What a sap, right? In my defense all I can say is they are really touching most of the time! Does that qualify as a good excuse?

6. I love Twitter! It rocks! I suppose that makes me a twitterholic, but I can think of worse things to be addicted to.

7. I attend school 3/4 time, work full time, and tread the path of the single parent. I can whip up mac-n-cheese in 7 minutes flat! Clean the house in a single bound! And finish my homework at the speed of light! Okay... speed of light might be stretching it a bit... but not by much :-)

And now the real fun begins! I get to tag 7 people who are, as of yet, unaware that I am on the prowl *rubbing hands together and smiling slyly*

And the nominees are (drum roll please!):

Venture Level: This is a great blog by Romil Patel! He covers a wealth of information for, , , , and

The Marketing Spot : This is a great blog for small business marketing ideas and advice by Jay Ehret (and guest bloggers). Every small business owner can benefit from this blog!

Jim Kukral: Jim is a veteran online marketer, web-entrepreneur, speaker and award-winning blogger who focuses on creative marketing ideas and strategies.

Chris Brogan: Chris Brogan has been blogging for several years. His blog is full of information pertaining to all aspects of business, blogging, and social networking.

What Works for Business: Daniel Kehrer shares his view of several different aspects of business including Marketing solutions, retail, and so mush more. I highly recommend this blog!

Click to Client: All I can say is wow! This blog is a terrific place to gain information on social networking and what it can do for you. It also humbly reminds us that social networking cannot succeed unless we are committed to it!

The Franchise King: Joel Libava has been termed the franchise king. And thought his is a name that portends huge responsibility, he takes it well. Joel enjoys the chance to help others realize the dream of being a business owner.

Now I am off to let them all know they have been tagged and are now "it"!

Update: All the wonderful bloggers on my list have now been tagged via blog!

Thanks for playing blog tag and I look forward to seeing you again!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Importance of Marketing: Part IV

Low Cost Marketing Strategies

Welcome to the third part of my cheap marketing strategies tips! Today we're going to discuss contests and freebies. I can already hear the groans! Freebies? Are you kidding me? Don't you realize we're in a recession?!?!?!? Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do realize that and I also know that every penny counts - especially right now. However, freebies don't have to be expensive. Think about it... the price of a cup of coffee every day for one week = a $10 gift card to Starbucks. If this free incentive is applied towards a certain purchased amount of your product, you have already gained that $10.00 back!

An ebook also makes a great freebie. And no, it doesn't have to be 100 pages long! Just something that benefits others in some way. Offer a how to ebook... a small business marketing tips ebook... 10 ways to save money in an uncertain economy... the possibilities are endless. You can save money by creating the ebook yourself. Sure it takes a bit of research on your part and even a little of your time, but people like FREE and your time is well spent.

What about a lunch/dinner for 2 on us type of contest? You can pre-buy a gift card to a decent restaurant (not McDonald's! Try Chilies) and offer those who make a purchase from your company a chance to win. Get creative! There are a thousand ways you can increase your sales with very little money.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Importance of Marketing: Part III

Low Cost Marketing Strategies

Small businesses must be extra imaginative with their marketing efforts in order to attract customers and get them to open their wallets. Even more challenging is that most entrepreneurs have shallow pockets and shoppers are being more selective as a result of the sluggish economy and volatile stock market. This means that businesses have to get more creative while trying to save a few dollars themselves. So far we have covered WOMM and email marketing as cheap and effective ways to market your business. Another cheap but effective way to market your company is business cards.

Business cards are the most basic and versatile of all marketing tools. Always use them and hand out two at a time, but make sure they are effective. Just like the name of your business, consider choices and design your business card. Does it clearly state what business you are in and what you do? Is it clear and legible?Think of these as inexpensive billboard for your company. Your business cards have your company name, contact information etc., on them. Make sure to include your email and web address. There is a neat feature about business cards, they are two sided. Use the reverse side to list your products, services or even a special offer. Always carry them with you and pass them out. Even if your business is Internet based, you should still have them. If people don't have your web address in their hands, how will they get to your site? Believe it or not, there are web sites you can go to for free business cards. All you pay is shipping! You can also print your own cards from your PC, but professional printing is recommended, and for what they can do, business cards are very cheap. Listed below are a few places where you can get very cheap but quality business cards.

Vista Prints

Free Printable Business Cards

Giggle Print


Check out Blogs Directory

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Importance of Marketing: Part II

Low Cost Marketing Strategies

The bread and butter of any company (as stated previously) are its customers. A sure way to keep them coming back (and sending people your way) is to offer customer rewards. When customers feel appreciated, they will keep coming back. We know you appreciate your customers... but do they know that? Try implementing a loyalty program that offers returning customers a discount of some kind and offer first time customers a reward for using you over the competition. I don't mean gift baskets either! Those are great, but what do customers want more than anything? They want to get what they want and save some money! Offer first time customer incentives like $10.00 off their order, or 5% off orders over a predetermined amount.

Create a newsletter with money saving tips, tricks and offers. Spotlight the best selling items and offer incentives to buy; 1/2 price shipping on a specified date, 15% off, etc. E-mail this newsletter to those customers who opted to receive e-mail from your company. Simple right? But you would be surprised at how many companies do not utilize e-mail to its fullest potential. E-mail marketing is flexible, cost effective, easy to measure, and high impact. You can easily drive traffic to your website and reach a large geographic audience. This type of marketing is great for keeping in touch with customers and creating new prospects. It can be used to announce new products, discounts, and a plethora of additional information. It's free, it's easy, and you already have the contacts!


Friday, January 16, 2009

The Importance of Marketing

Low Cost Marketing Strategies

Marketing is critical to the success of any business, whether a new business, small business, or a business that has long since established its identity. The simple fact is that without marketing, your business is losing the one thing that keeps it going: its customers. Many businesses (especially small businesses) often frown at the amount of money it takes to get the company name out and falling from customer lips. But, despite the old adage that "it takes money to make money", these days there are several marketing advantages that don't have to cost an arm and a leg. As always, yard signs are a cheap advantage over the competition, but there are other alternatives as well. If you are currently working on a marketing budget, there are a few quick and cheap ways to pump up your visibility.

The first marketing strategy I would like to visit is Word-of-Mouth-Marketing (WOMM).
What is word of mouth marketing, you ask? Well, the phrase alone should speak for its self but...

Word-of-Mouth-Marketing is simply the passing of information from person to person via e-mail, conversation, phone, etc. With the internet now playing a huge roll in social and business networking, Word-of-mouth marketing has grown to encompass such sites as MySpace, FaceBook, Digg, Delicious... and the list goes on. With the increasing use of the Internet as a research and communications platform, word of mouth has become an even more powerful and useful resource for consumers and marketers. Think about it. Word-of-Mouth-Marketing doesn't depend on the economical situation, fluctuation, or even what your competators are doing. Better yet, it doesn't have to cost you anything except a bit of dedication, time, and patience. If you think of Word-of-Mouth-Marketing as a long term goal, you'll have a pretty clear indication of how far it can get you. Cultivated properly, you can increase your prospects, your customer base, and your profits simply because of your reputation and knowledge.

Take a moment and ask yourself this: Are you utilizing the vast tools offered by the internet? Have you created a business blog that informs the public about your company and what you do? Published articles about your company that share the daily going ons? How to video's? The vast array of possibilities are virtually endless. Create and expand your social and business network by joining different online communities. Most of these communities allow you to join and create your profile for no cost and give you a free blog spot. Sharing what goes on everyday in your office (or having your employees share) not only opens new avenues of communication, but allows customers (or potential customers) to see that you're just everyday folks...just like them.

You don't have to be a marketing guru to reach your customers and you don't have to spend thousands of dollars either. Stay tuned for more money saving marketing strategies....


Thursday, January 15, 2009

What a Pickle!

Attention sign-spinners and mascots: Franklin city leaders are not amused by your wacky roadside antics.

Noshville employee Benjamin Reed, dressed as the Noshville Pickle, waves at passing cars outside of the new Noshville location off Carothers Parkway in Franklin in December.

In Franklin Tennessee there appears to be some debate about the constitutional right of a pickle to stand in front of Noshville Deli off Carothers Parkway "spinning" a sign. For those of you unfamiliar with "sign spinning" it is a new advertising trend where companies hire people to spin signs (signs are held or mounted on a pole that can be twisted or turned in a circle) while dancing, waving, etc. on a busy corner or in front of a business. I'm sure you have all seen them... those people dressed in mascot costumes dancing on the side of the road with a sign waving at you to get your attention. Sign laws in Franklin do not permit sign holders to stand in a public right of way, even if it happens to be on their "legal" property.

MGM business events hires people to spin signs all over the Nashville area. And while Mike Mello intended to take this concept national, it appears that he may be spinning his thumbs instead. He said city officials threatened his team with fines this year and said they consider the spinning signs the same as a moving sign — which Franklin does not permit. Mike Mello, owner of MGM Business Events, says, "It's unconstitutional. If we're on private land, why can't we spin a sign? What's next — we can't wear a shirt with Nike on it? I'm really frustrated with this particular city."

Assistant City Administrator, Vernon Gerth, intends to see that the sign laws are more clearly defined in an attempt to "provide an ordinance that provides for an equitable display of signage by all of our businesses". According to Gerth, current sign ordinances "do not adequately define and regulate the different types" of temporary signs. In basic English this means that the sign laws in Franklin, Tennessee are about to get stricter. How does this tie in with the sign pickle? Obviously Mr. Pickle is considered a temporary or moving sign and, by Franklin sign laws, temporary and moving signs are taboo. It appears that Mr. Pickle is breaking the law by standing in front of Noshville Deli! In an attempt to comply with the temporary sign ordinance, Glen Smith (the restaurant's director of operations), escorted Mr. Pickle from the sidewalk in front of his establishment.

All I have to say about this sign quandary is: watch out Vlasic Pickles! Make sure the stork returns home because if he's caught standing in front of a business or the side of the road in Franklin, he'll become a criminal. Oh, and Mr. Peanut... hobble on home... you are not welcome in Franklin, Tennessee. I know, I know... you're both accredited with international acclaim but, with all due respect, you're both mascots that move. By law you are now considered temporary moving signage.


Based upon "Franklin sign laws have businesses in a pickle
Placard-spinners, characters irk leaders"
By Kevin Walters • THE TENNESSEAN • January 14, 2009

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