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Whats New in CorelDraw X6

April 15th, 2012

As a Graphic Designer, I am always looking to Digital Image Software for whats new and the worthiness of the addition purchase or upgrade to the existing one. What is important to me is “what is going to make my life easier and save me time in creating my jobs?” I know in the sublimation business we need to be able to continuously find way to save time and to be more efficient. I have been asked by clients what is new in the CorelDraw X6 and is it worth the additional purchase? Well here is some of the things I have found to be useful and appealing.

New! Shape tools:

The new Smear tool lets you shape an object by pulling extensions or making indents along its outline. The size of the brush nib and the Pressure setting let you control the intensity of the effect, and you can choose between smooth curves or curves with sharp corners. Alternatively, you can use the pressure of your digital pen to determine the intensity of the smear effect.

The new Twirl tool lets you apply twirl effects to objects. The size of the brush nib lets you determine the size of the twirls, and the Rate setting lets you control the speed of the effect. You can also choose either a counterclockwise or a clockwise twirl.

In addition, you can use the new Attract and Repel tools to shape curves by attracting nodes or by pushing nodes away from other nodes in close proximity. To control the shaping effect, you can vary the size of the brush nib and the speed at which the nodes are attracted or repelled.

New & Enhanced! Object Properties docker:

In CorelDRAW X6, the redesigned Object Properties docker now presents only object-dependent formatting options and properties. By grouping all object settings in one location, this time-saving docker helps you fine tune your designs faster than ever before. For example, if you create a rectangle, the Object Properties docker automatically presents outline, fill, and corner formatting options, as well as the rectangle’s properties. If you create a text frame, the docker will instantly display character, paragraph, and frame formatting options, as well as the text frame’s properties.

 

Enhanced! Hints docker:

The Hints docker now includes a Videos tab, which provides a collection of instructional videos that cover a range of topics, from creating basic shapes and basic object transformations to applying interactive contours and transparencies. This helpful learning docker appears in both CorelDRAW and Corel PHOTO-PAINT and provides context sensitive information on the currently selected tool. This makes it easier for new users to
learn how to use the tools in the toolbox.

Please be sure to check out our website for documentation and videos that are on our PartnerNet sight that provide detailed instructions on how to find and use the new tools mentioned here.

 

In addition, you will find informative videos for configuring color management by the support team at Condé by visiting Condé TV, the Condé Facebook Page and Condé Twitter. Look for more upcoming videos and informative blog entries to be added for successful sublimation and maintaining your Condé DyeSub System. If there is something that you think would be better said in an instructional video or blog posting, then we look forward to hearing your ideas.

 

Senior Technical Consultant,

 

Vicky Waldrop


Preparing Photoshop Documents: Printing Multiple Images on One Document in Photoshop

March 28th, 2012

When working in applications I try to plan accordingly and prepare myself  for any challenging  things that might I encounter along the way. I don’t want to begin working in imaging software without knowing how to be successful in completing my job. Having said that, there have been some unexpected curve balls that I have not planned for while in a application I am using. For instance, printing multiple images on one document in Photoshop.  This is the type thing that will stump you in your tracks if you are not a regular Photoshop user. It is assumed that it is a simple task. Not to say it is not easy but no-one wants to be held up by something as simple as placing multiple images or graphics on a single document. Here is some instructions for quickly moving past this dilemma so you can get back to successful printing.

Photoshop> Using the Place option and creating a document for placing multiple=

Don’t let curve balls slow you down. Plow right through your dilemmas and let nothing hold you back from success.

In addition, you will find informative videos for configuring color management by the support team at Condé by visiting Condé TV, the Condé Facebook Page and Condé Twitter. Look for more upcoming videos and informative blog entries to be added for successful sublimation and maintaining your Condé DyeSub System. If there is something that you think would be better said in an instructional video or blog posting, then we look forward to hearing your ideas.

Senior Technical Consultant,

Vicky Waldrop


Seven Keys to Better Client Retention

January 5th, 2012

By Steve

 

I don’t usually copy other people’s work but this one is so good, I’ll make an exception. Credit goes to Sign and Digital Graphics Magazine (a Division of National Business Media). Although you could just read it yourself at http://sdgmag.com/tips/seven-keys-to-better-client-retention, but most of us in the Photo-gifting industry probably don’t spend a lot of time reading sign websites, I’ll give an abbreviated version.

 

  1. Market to Existing Clients – Your current customers are already doing business with you and are more likely to buy from you again. Focus most of your time, efforts and resources on understand and meeting their needs.
  2. Be Honest – Treat your clients with honesty, good humor, and respect, and do so consistently over time. At some point they will see you as dependable, credible and trustworthy.
  3. Do What You Say – If you say you are going to send information, or do a follow up – do it. If you promise delivery by a certain day – do it. By following through with your commitments you will gain loyalty and trust.
  4. Make it Fun – Clients want to work with people who enjoy what they do. The more fun you can have while providing strong outcomes, the longer your clients will stay.
  5. Become a Long-term Vendor – let your customers know you will be around long after the sale. Let them know they can come back whenever they need help, advice or service. Position yourself as a long-term resource.
  6. Offer Help Outside the Box – Do you have the name of someone who could help a client move ahead on a business plan? Tell them about it. Sharing resources is a terrific way to build loyalty and satisfaction.
  7. Offer Rewards – Consider implementing a customer loyalty program, where your long-term clients are rewarded for staying on. You might offer them discounts, free product, or services for a certain level of ongoing participation with your business.

 

There. I couldn’t have said it better myself!


WHEN YOUR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN IS A BUST

December 29th, 2011


By Steve

 

Over the years, I have tried hundreds of promotional campaigns. Some went gangbusters; some did pretty good and some did just so-so. But I have never had one fall on its face like my last “great idea”.

 

I hesitate to tell you what it was because it sounds s-o-o-o good on paper, you might be tempted to try it – but don’t. We sent out 250 personal invitations to people living around the shop to come and do their Christmas shopping by appointment. No crowds, no rushing, no waiting. Total personalized service. I expected a 10-15% response that would bring in about $4,000 in gross sales, maybe more. The cost of the campaign was about $300 and included a full color Condé catalog, full color flyers of new products, and a personal letter. A number of people complimented us on the idea and the quality of the promotion but….

 

But…nobody came. I mean nobody. Zero. Less than one. It was just plain embarrassing, disappointing and demotivating.

 

You ever experienced this yourself? I expect that if you have tried many campaigns, you have experienced disappointment too. Many people become so demoralized, they stop trying and that is the last thing you should let happen.

 

Promotions are a crap-shoot. Some work and some don’t. This one didn’t (that’s an understatement!). The next one I dream up will do better – it can’t do any worse. I have nowhere to go but up.

 

This is why I suggest to Photo-Gifting businesses doing sublimation to keep their promotions small until they know they will work. Be slow to jump into any form of advertising that you can’t ‘try on for size’ first. The cost of a promotional campaign is not significant so long as it brings in enough business to pay for it and still make a profit but those what end up being a bust can really hurt the bottom line. I was prepared to expand my campaign to another thousand homes. Maybe if I had, I would have hit pay dirt but my test market said otherwise and I pulled the plug before I threw good money after bad.

 

Why did it fail? Was it out too soon or too late in the holiday season? Was there too much literature included? Was the catalog and price sheet too complicated (and it was)? Was it that people were turned off by the appointment concept? I don’t know and I will probably never know but it certainly put me in my place and I learned (or relearned) that not every idea is a good one.

 

So what do I do now? I’ll spend a few days licking my wounds and then I will try something else. There are a lot of industrial companies around I haven’t shown sublimated labels to. Maybe that will be next. What about you? What are you planning for 2012?


HOW DO YOU FIND MORE CUSTOMERS?

October 21st, 2011

 

By Steve

 

Marketing is sometimes a vast and complex endeavor but it doesn’t have to be. There are 300 million people in the United States. How many are potential customers for what you do? Well, you can probably cross off the children and people in nursing homes. People who live too far from you and can’t visit your town or city (unless you are on the Internet and that is a bit of a different animal altogether). That might leave the number of adults who live in your general area. For me, that’s about 25,000. If I can just reach one adult in each household, that reduces it to about 18,000. Still too many for my budget so I’ll have to limit it even more. What if I go after the closest 1,000 homes to my shop? I can afford that – maybe. So here’s my plan:

 

1. Further identify my potential customers: I want to reach people who place value on what I do. With the holidays coming up, I have a better than average chance of touching a nerve if I talk about Photo-Gifts since almost everyone gives gifts during the holidays.

 

2. Next, I want to create a meaningful message: Although I might send out a 20 page catalog of gift items, I still need a really brief sales message that tells them why they should buy from me and I should be able to do it in a single sentence or two. People aren’t going to read or listen to a long spiel. Experts say I have 30 seconds to sell my company before they will turn me off. Is it because I’m close, have great selection, fast delivery, best prices or friendly service? What is it that will draw people in?

 

3. Now I must deliver my message and do it often: Experts say I not only have to deliver my message often, but I have to do it in multiple ways if my potential customers are going to hear and remember. How can I do that? How can you do that? Signage on building, delivery vans, yard signs, flyers, mail, radio, TV, through other customers? They are all valid, depending on your budget. Most say “word of mouth” is the best and it probably is but that can be painfully slow – while you are waiting for that to take hold, you can starve to death. We need something quicker so that means we must come up with a budget that doesn’t put us out of business and then spend it wisely.

 

4. Evaluate often: Is the plan working? Even the best sounding plans may not work. Don’t hesitate to scrap what you are doing and try something else if your current plan isn’t performing. Ask customers how they heard about you. Ask them what they would do if the tables were reversed. Most of the time, their ideas will be too expensive but every once in a while, you will get a gem that you might never have thought about.

 

Whatever you try, you have taken a huge step because most companies like ours don’t really try anything. They just open the door and hope someone falls through it and if that is working for you, great. The question is, how much more business would you be doing if you tried something more?


I DON’T HATE GOING TO THE DENTIST ANY MORE!

October 12th, 2011

By Steve

 

Most people, like me, dread going to the dentist. At least I used to. But now I’ve found a way to ease the pain – not the pain in my mouth, the pain in my pocketbook. Here’s what I do.

 

I go to the dentist twice a year. Each time, I take him a sublimated gift. The first time, it was a name badge – two in fact, just in case he lost one.

 

Of course, once he had a really nice name badge, he had to either risk hurting my feeling by not wearing it or order badges for the rest of his staff (he has twelve). Guess what, I left with an order for 24 badges at $10 each.

 

The second time, I took him a clock sublimated with dental “stuff” on it and the words, “We like to see you smile” and his logo on it. He has a clock in each of his rooms and he has five rooms plus a lobby. Guess what? I left with an order for five clocks at $35 each.

 

I haven’t decided what to take next time but I’m trying to think of something expensive with a really big profit margin!

 

Why don’t you try it? It works for dentists, doctors, optometrists, and even your pet’s vet. This is an inexpensive way to market your services.  I call them “working samples”.  They aren’t just samples of your work but something the potential customer can put to use right away.


DOOR OPENERS

September 9th, 2011

By Steve Conde

One of the most effective ways to gain new clients and build new relationships is to use what I call a “Door Opener”. Here’s how it works for me:

Most photo gifting companies open their door or put out flyers, etc. and wait for the customer to find them. That’s how I started my first business and it was very successful but then I was also very lucky. Had I known then what I know now, that business would have grown much faster than it did and been even more successful.

First, you can’t just open your doors and hope someone falls through. You need to go get customers. And if you have to go out and get them, you might as well pick the ones you really want. After all, it is true that some customers are a lot more trouble than they are worth!

Find a list of businesses in your community. You can get one by joining the Chamber of Commerce or maybe from the BBB. These usually have the company name, address and the name of the CEO or purchasing agent and a phone number. Armed with that list, you can bring in new clients fairly easy and you can bring in the ones you want to work with.

In some cases, you can cold call on the CEO or purchasing agent. In other cases, you will want to call and make an appointment. If you happen to know a mutual friend, that’s even better because it gives you something “social” to talk about before you give your pitch.

The vital part of this is to do your homework before you go. What kind of business is it? What do they make? Who are their customers? How many employees, etc.? Some of this you won’t be able to find out and that’s OK, just work with what you know.

Next, make a “sample” product for the person you are going to see. Put his or her name on it! Include their logo or some background suitable for their type of business. If you happen to learn that the CEO loves hang-gliding, put a picture of a hang-glider on it – anything to make it as personal as possible.

I often use name badges for this since most people at this level go to functions all the time where they can wear a name badge but other items work too. If the job requires travel, you can use a luggage tag or key fob. Make it nice but don’t overdo it. A couple of bucks your cost is plenty.

When you finally meet the person, be excited and say, “Nice to meet you. I brought you something!” This will usually result in five minutes of conversation about the name badge or other item and in that time, you can be talking about all the neat stuff you can make and how fascinating the process is. By this time, you have become acquaintances. You can now tell them why you are there: “Let’s cut to the chase, I want your business and I am willing to earn it. What kinds of things might I be able to make for you?” Be persistent. They will always say they can’t think of anything. That’s because you have caught them off guard. You will need to help them run down the list: Name badges, tags, labels, door signs, gifts for their customers, etc. Chances are you will hit a nerve somewhere. Regardless, keep your visit short and then follow it up with a hand-written note thanking them for their time and enclosing a business card, magnetic card, flyer, etc. to reinforce the things you can do.

These little “sample” (never call them gifts!!!) items are door openers. They help get the conversation going, demonstrate the quality of your work and leave something behind with your name and phone number on it. If nothing else, they will know who you are, what you make and that you are serious about wanting them as a customer.

Never, never, never give a mass produced product. You are in the personalization business. Make it as personalized as you can with the information you have. If in doubt, call the secretary or operator and ask for the boss’s name and their website so you can see their logo and learn a little about the business before you visit.

Sound simple. It is. Most effective marketing is simple and direct. Always remember, people buy from people. Don’t be just a voice on the phone, be a real person to your potential customer and you will always be more successful.


I GOT TO HAVE IT MARKETING

September 8th, 2011


By Steve Conde

There are all kinds of ways to market your photo gift products but here is one I love to use: envy. It is just so much fun to watch.

Here’s an example: I made a laptop bag for my wife and put the pictures of our two grandsons on it for her. I knew she would take it to her church and volunteer meetings and show it off. Sure enough, just a few days later, I started getting calls from other grandmothers. “They just had to have one”.

It works with all kinds of groups and with all kinds of products. Here are some you might try. I haven’t done all these myself so you can let me know how they work for you:

1. Give a teacher a laptop bag with the school colors and mascot and their name on it and see how many teachers (or students) have to have one.

2. Give a pair of flip-flops to a gymnast or competitive swimmer and see how long it takes before everyone on the team has to have a pair.

3. Same thing with a pair of boxers with the gym (swim) logo and person’s name on them. The girls love these for cover-ups.

4. Give a grandparent a license plate with pictures of their little ones and see how long it takes others to just have to have one.

5. Make a really cool water bottle for any kid in any sport and see how long until every kid on the team has to have one.

6. Give a personalized leash and collar to someone who takes their dog or cat to shows and see how long before everyone at the show has to have one.

7. Make a tote bag for a grandmother (or someone in a sewing circle) with pictures on it and see how long it takes for others to just have to have one.

8. Make a door hanger for the most popular kid you know (the one whose house is constantly invaded by the other kids in the neighborhood) and see how long before every kid has to have one.

9. Make a cosmetic bag for the most popular girl in high school with a picture of her boyfriend on it and see how long before every girl in her class has to have one. Same is true with a cell phone case.

Well, we could go on and on with this but you should have the idea by now. Let your products sell themselves. Tell whoever you give the sample to that you are testing out a new product and ask them to show it around and see what people think about it. Most will be happy to help you out and if that means people order them, so much the better.

This won’t be a winner with every person or every product but even if you get just a couple of orders from a sample, you have more than paid for the sample, made a profit and collected two new customers who might buy something else or come to you when they need gift items for some event. It’s a fun way to grow your business. Give it a try. Ask your Condé rep for suggestions of products that see well or ideas they might have to add to your list.


Marketing is Everything – well, almost!

July 26th, 2011

By Steve Conde

To have a successful sublimation (Photo-Gifting) business, you need at least 2 things:

1. You need to be able to produce quality products that people want to buy.

2. You must be able to get your message to the public that you have products they want to buy. This is called marketing.

Most people are scared to death at the sound of the word, “marketing”. It brings to mind images of New York board rooms and expensive PR programs that few of us could afford. Or, it brings images of going door to door hocking wares like the Fuller Brush Man of the past.

Neither of these approaches are either necessary nor effective. There are, however much easier ways to go after new customers, especially niche markets. A niche market, by my definition, is a market that is so unique almost no one else is interested in it, at least so far as sublimation is concerned.

In fact, I have built my business on niche markets. The competition is minimal and the potential is huge. People like it when they think you care enough about them or what they do to focus on them.

There is a special tool just to help you market your products to various niche markets. It is called, “125 Ways to Make Money With Sublimation” and it is available from Condé Systems. The original title was “Find Your Niche and Scratch It” but too many people were afraid no one would know what the heck it was about with that title so it was changed.

The manual comes with a dual CD containing hundreds of layouts for the various markets so you can just pick a potential market, print some samples from the CD (CD requires you to have CorelDRAW 8 or higher due to copyright issues) and start making money. Of course, there are lots of marketing tips and other information as well. The price is only $79.95 for both the manual and the dual CD pack. A small investment for what will surely pay for itself many, many times over.

If you have questions about the manual, give your Condé rep a call. They will be happy to tell you what it’s all about.


GROWING YOUR BUSINESS – All Dressed Up and No Where to Go

May 2nd, 2011

By Steve Conde

OK, that new sublimation equipment has arrived and you’ve got it out of the boxes and set up. You even ran some test sheets through the printer and created a color chart just like you were supposed to. But now what?

Now that you are ready to produce sublimation products, the only thing missing are customers. Where are those going to come from?

If you are like most sublimation/awards/personalization businesses that start up, you have been so focused on getting set up, your only plan now is for someone to fall through the door. Although many a good companies have started with no better plan than that, you shouldn’t be one of them. What you need is a marketing plan – a target audience to whom you are going to sell a bunch of stuff!

A “Marketing Plan” may sound a bit scary and expensive but it needn’t be either. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost anything and what’s scary is being without one. One easy way to design a marketing plan is to order 125 Ways To Make Money With Sublimation from your Condé representative. In this manual, there are over 125 different markets you can go after new customers. All you have to do is pick out three or four that interest you and follow the suggestions about how to reach them. Chances are, you have close connections with several of the markets already and might not even realize it.

In the meantime, here are five things you can be doing to bring those customers right out of the woodwork:
1. Business Cards: Have some nice business cards printed. Buy full color cards. It is best if you have a background showing sublimation products but for sure, make them in color on gloss paper and buy plenty. Then give them out everywhere you go. Don’t be selfish with them. Put two in every order, hand two to every friend and ask them to share the spare. Hint: There are Internet sources that print cards for a few pennies each.
2. Find a Place to Mingle: There are many networking opportunities. Service organizations like Rotary International and certainly the Chamber of Commerce are but two. Attend these with a pocket full of cards.
3. Wear Your Name Badge Everywhere: Going to dinner? Wear your name badge. Going to a movie? Wear your name badge. Anyplace you can, wear your name badge or consider shirts with your company name. If you have children who are active in sports, print up some stuff for them to wear, shorts, shirts, hats, whatever they will wear. Help them to be the coolest kid on the block. Don’t worry about putting your company name on them. Just make them cool and watch how many people ask where they came from.
4. Form Partnerships: A great way to build a business is to partner with someone else. It might be a gift shop or photographer or framing shop or tourist destination – anything that deals with pictures will do. Be careful however, the objective is for you both to make money. You won’t make as much as you do in retail but if you can’t make 150% or more, you might want to pass. Remember, you are doing all the work and taking all the risk.
5. Ask for Referrals: When you make something for someone, include a couple of business cards and ask them to pass the word to their friends. Don’t assume they will do this just because you give them business cards. You need to ask, “Will you help me by telling two friends about my service?” This is called word of mouth and many companies depend heavily on it. Some say it is the best form of advertising and that may be but if you don’t really work it, all it will do is let you starve.
Marketing is just as important as your ability to produce quality products. One without the other will only result in disaster. Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated but it will not happen by itself. You have to make it happen and if you try something and it doesn’t work for you; no problem, just try something else. Sooner or later, you will find just the right ticket and away you will go!