Inkspot Graphics Logo

I got this card awhile back from one of my strategic partner, Rob Grant who was the marketing representative at Miracle-Ear hearing aid franchises in the Northwest.

thankyou-card outside

Sharing of Genuine Feelings

It may sound like a small thing but you need to reach out to your clients (by even the smallest amount) constantly. To be social responsible like Alexandra Valentin, CHT, corporate director of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, told us at the BizGrowth conference, "their are four proponents of being a socially responsible business - Reinforcement, Reminders, Revelations and Relevancy." Don't underestimate the psychology in Customer Service. It has to come from the heart, you genuinely have to have empathy for your clients. Degree of Delight is only achieved when the customer's Degree of Expectation is exceeded!

thankyou-card inside

Vince Lombardi

"It takes inches to make champions." That is what it takes to be #1.

Published in marketing 101
Friday, 27 July 2012 08:45

Radar On…Antenna Up


Ms. Alexandra Valentin, CHT gave a presentation this morning at the BizGrowth conference (Rose Garden, Portland, OR) on taking Customer Service to it's highest level - everyday. Ms. Valentin, is the Corporate Director for the Ritz-Carlton's Leadership Center. This was perfect timing after reading the book, Raving Fans.

She has been in the hospitality industry since 1995 and has an industrial psychological degree from University of Puerto Rico. She said that she started off being a bartender for Ritz-Carlton. Now, it all makes sense since that is where I started bartending for 15 years.

Malcolm Baldrige Award Winners

The Ritz-Carlton has received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1992 & 1999. This Malcolm Baldrige Award has quite a few prestigious companys on it's award list.

In Ms. Valentin's presentation (which I was furiously writing notes throughout her talk) she said that they beat in their employee's heads "Radar On…Antennas Up!" This is a constant reminder to reinforce the one-of-a-kind experience that their customers to experience. These are memorable experiences that they share with everyone that they are in contact with (we like to call it Word of Mouth marketing).

She also talked about five practices that they stress to their "ladies & gentlemen"

  1. Don't overcomplicate customer service…it has to be simple. It can be a little thing that makes the most amount of noise.
  2. Turn your customer interaction into a defining moment.
  3. Don't underestimate psychology in customer service. The more you understand how your customers' minds work, the more memorable experience they will have. She gave us a perfect example of how a Ritz-Carlton employee reached out to a little girl whose pet goldfish had died. When the family left the property they were just overwhelmed with joy and the child had the most memorable story that she will remember for the rest of her life. 
  4. Service is about your customers five senses. How does your bathroom smell?
  5. Attention to detail (plus 1% more). If your customer is going out for a morning jog…have a bottle of water and a towel to hand him/her when they return.

Ladies & Gentlemen

She also told us that it takes about a year to train each employee the Ritz-Carlton customer service approach (each & every day).  This first year of training is the most important to learn the highest level of employee customer engagement. From the owner or president of the hotel down to the doorman (or even janitors or housekeepers) they all are important to spreading the message of the Degree of Delight. They have an employee business card that reminds them of their promise to be passionate and to treat each customer like they are their best friend (The Employee Promise & Credo). To be the best, they anticipate and fulfill each guests needs. 

Ms. Valentin's talk is a constant reminder that if we are going to rise to be the cream at the top we must be socially responsible and make Raving Fans. Did you ever think that you would hear a customer of yours saying, "I can't imagine a world without (name of your business)!"


So remember - Radar On_Antenna Up!


Published in marketing 101


 As you know (maybe you don't) that it has a been part of my business model to go out to meet two new people a week and go to a networking event once a week. I do this to get my business name out there and to promote my business. I learned that it is one more asset of marketing that businesses need to do (even in good time)s.

When the US had economic troubles in 2008 I almost lost my business because I never went out to either sell or market my business. When a couple of sources dried up and I was forced to live off my credit card for three months. Bad decision, so I sucked it up and started networking with people/businesses in my community.

I found myself attending this networking event last week (FREE Small Business Event: How to Become a Social All-Star) that was put on by Frontier, at the Embassy Suites in Beaverton, OR. It was here that I got to hear from a couple of local big hitters in the social media world. Patrick Galvin (Galvin Communications), Jan Wallen (mastering LinkedIn) and Ryan Lewis (Bonfire Social Media). I even met a woman that has an automotive repair shop close to my office that was interested in talking about her business and the downtown Rotary group. This may be another post and opportunity for Molly's Fund to meet corporate sponsors.


Patrick Galvin - Chief galvanizer for Galvin Communications.

I went up and introduced myself to Patrick and asked if he would like to meet for coffee and have more conversation. He was more than happy to meet at Case Study coffee shop that is located in the Hollywood district of Portland. Finally, during his introduction at the Social Star Event he spoke on his commitment to WOM marketing. I am a heavy endorser of Andy Sernovitz's WOM campaign. He has a great newsletter called, "Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That".


Speaking of WOM… Patrick is a Connector and endorsed Case Study coffee shop that a friend of his owns (and the little bakery next door to it). It is always a treat to find someone locally that has a passion about helping other businesses through word of mouth!

Patrick owns a PR firm in town and has a handful of clients that he promotes in the traditional and social media venues. He also is a professional speaker that presents to various groups and events. 

 Bella the boxer

But what really caught my attention was that he has a dog, Bella the Boxer, that he has creatively introduced as the star of the Hollywood neighborhood (especially businesses). He speaks through Bella as a Goodwill Ambassador. It is pretty funny. It was so popular that Patrick had a written, Secrets of a Working Dog: Unleash your Potential and Create Success

I really enjoyed my conversation with Patrick and welcome him into my group of Strategic Partners. He passed on information about a local video connection and also one in the Bay Area (where I may be reaching out to because of my connections down there). We talked about our adopted children and lives outside of the business world. I will keep him in my thoughts when I see anything of interest in the Social Media world. I would recommend signing up for Patrick's blog - Buzz Builder.


Published in marketing 101
Monday, 09 July 2012 14:24

1st Week's Photoshop Tips

Straw-Mojito BlogEntry Flat

List of edits:

  1. Remove Background
  2. Trace Jam & Brighten Reds
  3. Edit Out Grean Reflection
  4. Lighten Shadow
  5. Darken Text
  6. Add Drop-Shadow
  7. Remove Glare from Bottom of Jar


Summer Intern Post #2 

While working on editing a group of images for Johnson Berry Farm I learned and re-learned a few great tips for editing images for a web page. The images were of jam and jelly jars as well as multi-jam packages and all of these needed to be edited so that they made the product look good on screen. I got the images from Mike and after bringing them into Photoshop I started the editing process. Now in my schooling I had been taught to use the magic wand and the lasso tool to select areas on an image and then to edit them on separate layers on top of the original image. Mike showed me a better way to edit based on using the pen/bezier tool and paths. This process was similar to using the polygonal lasso tool and saving selections but it allows for much fewer points and soft curves as well as hard corners. Also once you have made a path you can use it as a selection and alter it much easier than if you just have a saved selection. You just add to the path on the same path or on a new one. The process is much more streamlined compared to the process I used before.

The next few tips I learned were ones I had been taught in some form or another before. Reiteration and practice of techniques and processes are very important to any job really but to a graphic designer streamlining and simplifying a process is of the upmost importance. Designers must be efficient so I knew working on these images was a great opportunity for me to practice my skills.

I made two paths, one that consisted of the top and bottom areas on the jar that the jam could be seen and one that outlined the whole jar. I first selected the path that covered the whole jar and used a vector mask to temporarily erase the background so that all that cold be seen was the jar. I then selected the path that would just cover the jam areas and created a new layer gave it strawberry red color and used a blending mode to allow the original image to show through. I then lowered the opacity of the jam’s new color layer so the original image could be seen more. The whole point of this step was to add color to the original image so that it pops more on screen. Then I went in and edited the left side of the jar’s lid and label because in the original image there was a green reflection that came from some plants in the background. After that I needed to edit out a small glare at the bottom of the jars because they looked strange with a white background. I then added a small drop shadow so give the image extra depth. All of these changes were done on separate layers to ensure no irreversible changes were done to the original photo.

After these simple but important edits were made I needed to set the files up for web viewing. This was done by creating a template so that all the web versions came out the same size and resolution. Then I brought the edited images into the template and shrunk them down so that they fit into the guidelines Mike set so the focus of each image was in relatively the same spot. Then I saved each file to web & devices and as a much smaller JPEG. The smaller the image the faster the web page will load which makes your website less clunky for your users/customers. Once all these edits were applied to the jam, jelly, and package photos we uploaded them and placed them on the site which is now open to the public and customers. So stop by the Johnson Berry Farm Website and check it out.


Signature Final 

Published in marketing 101

BlogPhoto Comp

Summer Intern Post #1

My name is Daniel Nelson and this is the number one lesson I learned this week working as a summer intern with Mike at Inkspot Graphics. To be a successful free-lance graphic designer with your own business is a extremely active endeavor. You must be always thinking about the next project but be present at the same time to complete the project at hand. As a student in the PSU graphic design program in Portland, Oregon I had been introduced to the concept of producing projects for clients but I didn’t know the reality of how the industry works. 

Watching Mike for the few days has shown me that if I was ever to own my own graphic design business I would be consistently in motion. Working out deals with clients, going to meetings, and of coarse the doing the design work. In my college courses I am taught the mechanics of designing and how to do such things as matching colors, spacing and sizing solutions with text and imagery, popular and unpopular forms of imagery, how to work with type and much more.  All of these pieces of information go into designing every single piece of design work but in Mike’s world it goes much faster. For instance I am used to three plus weeks to work on usually two projects, one for each class I’m taking. That workload for me is difficult at times especially when it gets close to final rounds (the finished work). Mike as at times eight or nine projects moving at one time and needs to have them finished on dates he and his clients have agreed on. So that means he has to know his own work style and schedule well enough to be able to give a educated guess on when he can get something completed for them.

So much goes into that thought process, like starting the project, learning its details and background/story or figuring out one if one doesn’t exist, first rounds second rounds and final rounds, getting pricing for the prints/production of the project from vendors, setting the files up for the vendors, and meeting with clients throughout the whole process and there are other steps I know I am neglecting to mention. The point is he has to know the amount of time it is going to take for this process for eight to nine projects. Just in the first few days of working with Mike has made me respect this field of work immensely more. 

Signature Final

Published in marketing 101

When designing a piece that has alot of corporate sponsors (different logos) I find that it is best to colorize them all the same color so that no one gets more attention than any other company (black & white or grey scale is safe). The sample below illustrates my message. This is a vinyl banner that I created for my client. You see all the logos on the bottom of the poster? Which logo catches your eye first? Well, as long as you are not color blind the Salice logo is the first thing that I see. In fact, it doesn't help the readability of the sign. 

I should have made all these logos green to tie into the design but remember that there are some companies that don't allow you to edit the colors of their logo. Black & white logos would of been a safer choice. Always check first if you are going to edit someone's logo!



Here is a better sample for a local association from SE Portland, OR. They wanted to create a walking map that pointed out various businesses within the community. My suggestion was to color code the different services and then if the business supplied the logo I created them black & white (or grey scale). You will see these logos following their names below.



Published in marketing 101

I was approached to design a logo for a new committee…

Our executive director came to me and said, "We need to have a design made for this new program." I was honored that he was going to pay me for a service that I could have promoted in our local chamber. Part of my design process is to learn more about the direction and how it is to be used. I have been telling quite a large number of contacts, "I could design you a pretty logo but is it going to be functional and are you going to question the design in 6 months to a year down the road."

I sat down and discussed more about the project with two women that were on the committee. I went through my creative brief questionnaire with them and found alot of holes in the project direction. I submitted a proposal to the director and followed up with a phone call. He said, "Mike, I just need a logo!" It sounded like that he wanted something inexpensive and created immediately. I begrudgingly said, "Terry, I can make you a pretty logo for $XXX.XX!" I wasn't happy about my response but deep down inside I didn't feel like I was going to be proud of my task at hand. In the end could I really say, "This design was well thought out and very functional."

Needless to say, Terry never called me back. This is the design that they came up with:

bizexchange logo

and here is one of the places that they are using it:



Personally, this doesn't work for me way too much going on and too many colors. I thought that I would share this beautiful web site layout by Baker and Spice Bakery. Very clean and beautifully designed. I would be proud to show this in my portfolio.




Published in marketing 101
Friday, 06 July 2012 06:20

Problem with logo readability

Do you see a problem with this logo?


When this magazine converted this logo to black & white, the colors went to shades of grey. The words "Market & Spirits" are really hard to read. I have been working with an intern this summer and I have instructed him that if you are going to create a logo for a client you should provide options and rules. Not specifically for the client but for the advertisers (publications). Signage is also a concern like the article that I wrote on Town Storage's Window Signage. Along with print (high res vector) and web (pngs & jpgs) I give the clients horizontal format, vertical format and reversal options.

Here is a logo that we just recreated for a hair salon in SE Portland called Absolutely You Salon. Besides burning all there various logo types onto two cds to distribute we also compressed them in a WinZip file for ease to electronically send out to advertisers.


Published in marketing 101

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