The Obligatory 2010 Review – with a Twist

(NOTE: Our resident graphic designer, Lisa, also publishes our internal newsletter.  She has a knack of entertaining us all with her unique sense of humor and perspective on company events. So rather than me writing a retrospective review of 2010, I wanted to share Lisa’s recap of 2010 that she included in our recent newsletter.)

What a year, huh? In spite of our vow not to participate in the recession, unfortunately some of our clients did, so sales were not as stellar as we would have liked. But it was still a good year, and we are staying busy. 

Besides the 16 PIAS awards, and the five NAQP awards, we received a new honor for us – Arkansas Business’  – Business of the Year (Category 1)  award. I think we will all always remember the thrill of our name being announced the winner! 

In April a security door was installed at the front door to keep out unwanteds! Customers are supposed to buzz in and then push the green button and the door simultaneously to exit. It’s amazing how such a simple concept can be so confusing!  Several customers have almost pulled their arms off trying to get in, while others don’t have struggled greatly to push the green button and the door at the same time! 

The Dino Dash was a new event. We had such high participation we won for the largest non-school team. The prize has yet to be claimed – a night out for a private party at the Museum of Discovery. We have until May, so we might need to schedule that! 

The Travs game was fun – always nice to spend time with the kids! 

We participated in the Chamber’s Bowling After Hours again this year. We looked awesome in our bowling shirts – unfortunately the judges didn’t agree and gave the prize for best shirts to some unoriginal, boring shirts.  

In September, Paul made a decision that effects his bottom in more ways than one! He decided his bottom was sitting upstairs every day! And walking up and down those stairs is giving him tight “calves”.  

Sandy moved into Paul’s old office – just took her sixteen years. She loves her new office and hasn’t let the corner office go to her head – she still talks to all of us little people! 

December brought the Christmas Party. We had a great time — more details on the back page (not available for viewing here!)

Overall, it was a good, solid year and we have high hopes for 2011!

 

Thank you all for a successful 2010.  Happy New Year!

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Christmas Cards Through the Years

As a practitioner in the graphic arts, I feel it is my sworn duty to annually produce and publsh our our family Christmas cards.  And I continue to do this, much to the chagrin of my beloved family.  So today, I invite you to take a look at Christmas cards past.  You will get a glimpse into our family, and my strange sense of Holiday Humor.

2002 – It’s Ornamental

Nothing really original here. We have four children, how do we include them all in a holiday card?  Oh yeah, silly hats and include them as ornaments. All together now…Awww.

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2001 – I Heart U

While we always had the best intentions, timeliness was not always one of our strengths. We had the perfect photo: All 4 children sitting, calmly reading “The Night before Christmas.”

That, of course, made for our first and only family Valentine’s Day Card.

2004 – Rock You Like A Hurricane

Our family motto is to never let the chance to rekindle the memory of a natural disaster get in the way of a good Christmas card:

2003 – Over the River

Family vacations always offer the opportunity for that perfect group photo.  Even if the entire family is not present.  Notice how we “photoshopped” in the girls?  Our youngest knows that you would never, ever wear a tiara while whitewater rafting!

2008 – Let the Pun Begin

At some point, I thought that the use of puns would be a nice addition to our annual greetings:

2009 – More Pun Intended

Last year, we continued our use of puns, although this card had assistance from others as well:

And now, what about the card for Christmas 2010?  Heck, it’s only December 23!  You cannot rush creativity!

Wishing all of you the Best of the Holiday Season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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 Paul Strack, CustomXM

The Power of a Bookmark (Part Dux)

So you read Amy’s story about the power of her printed bookmark.  Well, now it’s time to hear about the real, behind-the-scenes drama of that project.  Most of what I am writing is based solely upon memory that is now 6 or 7 months old.

Production of the bookmarks went smoothly.  We designed and printed it according to Amy’s specifications.  The only stipulation was that the bookmarks had to arrive at a Scottsdale, AZ hotel by Saturday, the day before Amy’s big presentation.  No problem, right?

So let’s move forward to Saturday night.  It’s a nice evening in Arkansas.  Rather muggy for spring, but still, a normal evening, with our typical Tornado Watch weather advisory.  It was “date night” for my wife and me.  I think we try this at least twice a year.  The boys were gone somewhere (doesn’t really matter where), and our daughters were staying with my folks. So date night it was.

We chose to go see the Tina Fey/Steve Carell movie, Date Night.  (See, I told you we don’t do this very often.)  So we head to the Chenal 9, buy our tickets and  popcorn, and settle in for an intimate night out alone.

Then, as if on cue, the weather sirens resound through the theatre.  Spring thunderstorms begin their all too familiar trek across the central part of our state.  For most, the sirens mean that a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, or a possible Tornado Warning has been issued.  For me, the sirens are a precursor of impending mayhem and pandemonium.  You see, our 13 year old daughter has an unparalleled fear of tornadoes.  No matter what we say or do, she is certain that every tornado is tracking directly toward our house, or wherever she may be located at the time. Since my wife and I were out, our daughter chose her favorite communication method to calmly discuss the certain doom that lie ahead.

And about that same time, another siren went off slightly further West. That would be Amy.  She just came to the realization that her bookmarks had not been found by the hotel staff.  And her presentation was the next day.

So here are some of the emails/text messages I received during this rare, carefree night out with my lovely bride.

Text from Daughter (TFD): Dad, the sirens are going off!!!

Email from Amy (EFA): Dude, don’t want to alarm you, but they can’t find my bookmarks!!!

TFD: Dad, are we going to die?

EFA: If they don’t find my bookmarks, I’m gonna die.

Quote from Movie (QFM): He turned the gun sideways! That’s a kill shot!

TFD: Dad, is the tornado heading our way?

EFA: Dude, are the bookmarks heading this way?

TFD: Dad, the sirens are really loud. I’m scared.

EFA: Dude, I’m about to scream really loud.  The bellhop looks scared.

Lady Sitting Next to Me (LSNTM): Sir, that cell phone is rather annoying.

So at this point, I try to comfort all the women I currently have a relationship with.  I leave the theatre to carry on my on-line conversations.  I tell my daughter that no, the tornados are not heading our way. (I did check the radar, and I was not telling a lie.) I told Amy that I was certain that we shipped the bookmarks to the correct hotel and I was certain that they were there somewhere. (I did call a staff member at home on a Saturday night, she did confirm, and I was not telling a lie.)

And yes, I will take my wife out again. Sometime.  In the meantime, we’re gonna rent Date Night.

The Power of a Bookmark

It’s Amy time! How is everyone? Crazy with end of year and holiday plans? Me too. I’m trying to work on marketing plans for next year, and my brain is fried. I’ve been thinking about we can use print pieces as marketing tools in unusual situations, and I wanted to share this story with you.

A while back, I was asked to give a presentation at a tech conference for women. You know the conference drill — interesting topic, slide presentation (extra points if you use Presi), some good takeaways, maybe a hand out, on to the next speaker.

I knew I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t quite know what. I kept thinking to myself that I didn’t really need any sort of slide presentation. My presentation was more workshop-ish, less lecture. I needed the women to remember only five main points. I knew I wanted to leave them with a reminder of those points, but I didn’t want to give them a boring hand out that probably wouldn’t make it into their suitcases. 

That’s where the team at CustomXM came in. With only a few days to spare before the conference, I settled on the idea of giving the women a bookmark with my presentation highlights on it. I figured that would be kind of useful and less likely to get tossed. I also included my contact information on the bookmark, of course. I have no eye for design, though, so the Custom crew took the conference logo and color scheme and designed the bookmark around that. I was traveling prior to the conference, so we did proofs via email, and they shipped the finished product to my hotel just in time for my presentation. It was an inexpensive and easy process.

The bookmarks were a success. I had women tell me they loved that I didn’t have a slideshow, because they could focus on what I said, rather than being distracted by images. They also loved that they had an eye-catching and meaningful reminder of what I talked about. The conference organizers were pleased that I had incorporated their logo on the bookmarks. And the best part? I still get inquiries about my presentation from people who weren’t even there, because someone passed the bookmark along to them.

The whole idea was a test. I had no idea if my presentation style would be effective, or if people would like the bookmarks, or if anyone would laugh at me for relying so heavily on a print piece at a tech conference. I was thrilled at how everything turned out, and I’ll always be amazed at the power of one little piece of paper.

(Here’s a peek at one side of the bookmark.)

A Picture is Worth…$250 (for your favorite charity)

Seated, from L to R: Mildred, Ira, Mary Lee, Allison. 

Standing, from L to R: Phillip, Paul, Charlie, Dennis, Bobby, Ina, Alan.

Here’s a group photo from 1990. That’s the year I joined CustomXM; only then it was called Custom Printing Company, Inc. At that time, we didn’t have a fax machine, internet, or social media. Apparently, from the looks of the photo, we didn’t have color either. So twenty years have passed. Quickly. To help celebrate that accomplishment, and to share in the Season of Giving, we want to give you the chance to win $250 to donate to your favorite Arkansas charity.  Here’s how:

  • From the photo above, identify the FIVE (5) individuals who are still working here at CustomXM. 
  • For hints, visit (and “like”) our Facebook page, as all four have been identified at one time or another in some photos or posts.
  • Be the first to correctly identify the FIVE individuals and list them on the “comments” section of this blog, and we will donate $250 in your name to the Arkansas charity of your choice. (Charity must be a registered 501(c)(3) corporation.)

Good luck!