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4405 East West Highway Suite 308
Bethesda, MD 20814
USA

301-312-6803

Washington Graphic Services is a Washington DC area Graphic Design Communications Company. We specialize in the design and development of marketing materials, brochures, annual reports, logos, customized graphics, web sites and website maintenance, ecommerce solutions, custom web applications, content management websites and branding.

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Blog

 

 

Bring your Lobby to Life with a Wall Graphic

john mier

The new year is a great time to think about updating and personalizing your lobby in an exciting and brand effective way. Utilize your logo and branding visuals to create custom lobby wall graphics. Washington Graphic Services can come to your space, photograph the area, lobby, common spaces, exterior and design office graphics for walls, glass, elevators, doors, almost anywhere. Send a bold message with some graphics, showcase your ethos with some graphics related to what you do, or make a statement with a large graphic of your own company brand/logo. Whatever you choose, remember that when people come into your office, your lobby is their first chance to form an impression, so don’t let that opportunity pass you by.

Update your Building with New Signage

How long has it been since you updated the signage in your building? From your exterior signs, lobby signs, direction signs, directories, parking sign, wayewards signs, all this makes an impression on your current clients and on your prospective clients. Make an impression and send the message you need to convey. Update your building signage in 2017. Our team is available to show you what will work for you and your building inside and out.

Save Energy: Retrofit your Sign with LEDs

Electricity costs money ... especially in commercial buildings and facilities. What are the annual costs for you to illuminate your building or monument signs? Most older signs are illuminated with either fluorescent or neon lighting. Both of those options cost dramatically more in energy than LED lighting and have a larger carbon foot print. The savings are so significant that your upgrade will pay for itself in 5 years. Plus, if you factor in maintenance savings on your difficult-to-access signs, the LED retrofit will actually pay for itself in 2 or 3 years. Save money and energy in 2017 with an LED retrofit.

Monthly Webiste Maintenance - 50% off!

john mier

Update your current website and keep its content maintained by Washington Graphic Services (WGS). Our team of creative, marketing, content and IT professionals can update and maintain your business website FAST.

WGS offers monthly service agreements on all web and print projects and now we are offering for a limited time 50% off our hourly rate for new website maintenance clients. If you need just a few hours a month or 100, call us, we will do it.

WGS creates new content, designs, updates, custom codes, special projects, produces and edits databases AND keeps your websites up and running with the latest HTML5 and CSS3 standards.

Using Twitter, social media to drive traffic to your website

john mier

You write a great blog post but there's nobody there to read it, does it make a sale? You might have created a fantastic article filled with talking points related to your business. Your writer may have researched the most compelling topic, included loads of original insights and tied it all together with great graphics, but if that blog post isn't promoted properly, it simply won't be read. this mean it won't have any impact on your business.

1. Tweet your blog posts often and strategically.
Publish your blog post, then tweet it. Wait a few hours and re-tweet it. Wait two more days and tweet it again. Share your tweets, but be strategic: type different phrases, quotes and headlines each time you tweet the blog post, and time your tweets so that they can coincide with when your audience is online.

2. Write creative headlines and CTAs.
Want people to actually click over to your blog post? Don't be afraid to ask your audience to click for you. Include a call-to-action on your tweets so your audience knows what you need for them to do and how they can respond. Use a creative headline that will compel readers who sees it to click for more.

3. Always use great graphics/images.
Graphics/images/photos work well on social media, not just on Twitter. Make sure your blog post has at least one graphic or photo associated with it, and include this image every time you tweet it out. Your tweet will appear larger and more eye-catching in people's time-lines, making it more likely that they will click.

4. Tag people and businesses whom matter.
Are there specific people or businesses in your industry would be interested in your post? Tag them when you share it. If they like what they see, they'll retweet or share it, getting you even more eyeballs.
5. Use hash-tags ... but wisely.
Create industry-related hash-tags to promote your blog post beyond just your followers. This will increase the number of people and business that can and will see your posts. Remember people are visual, don't be afraid to use images but review them carefull ... you don't want to send out something thats embarrassing.

6. Thank you.
If you're getting lots of shares and interaction from key members of your Twitter community, be sure to thank them. This may make them more likely to continue to share, and increase your reach and exposure. Also come across as "geniune," people don't want to be used or feeling that these "thank-yous" are fake and manufactured.

7. We love ad campaigns (Google AdWords).
If you are business create a social media ad campaign such ad Google's AdWords. Budget this every year. You will get more traffic and business from it than you spend. TRUST ME. Google can boost your blog posts even further than you could reach organically. For a relatively small cost, you can pay to get your post in front of thousands of new, targeted audience members. WGS has been using Google for 10 years. It works.

Measuring the success of your content, optimizing how it is consumed ... these are all necessary steps in a great content strategy. But besides the actual content itself, the most important aspect of creating a blog post is how you promote it.

Washington Graphic Services can write, create and manage all your posts, tweets, listings, directory updates, ad campaigns and social media sites so you don't have to. We are much more affordable than an in house writer, programmer, graphics team. We can be your outsourced graphics and social media team for less than half of what you would pay one employee over the course of a year.

Website Maintenance Services Will Help Your Business

john mier

Website maintenance is a critical part of having a presence on the web today. Designing and deploying the site is just the start. Modern sites are complex collections of software that require regular attention and updates. Here are few ways that having website maintenance services available to your company will make your business more marketable online.

1. Software Updates and Security
Websites used to be pretty simple. At their base, they were simply a collection of static files that you would upload to a server. A modern site, however, is usually a database-driven software platform. Each site is, itself, an application. And, just like any application on your computer, your website’s software needs to be updated periodically. An update may make an improvement in how the site works, but in most cases, it is to keep your site operating securely. Just because you have a website does not mean you are listed on all/any of the search engine directories.

2. A Built-In Disaster Recovery Plan
If you’re currently managing your own website, I want you to think for a moment – what you would do if your site was suddenly lost? Maybe the server your website is hosted on crashed; maybe your site was hacked and replaced with something completely different. How would you recover? Let WGS maintain a backup of your site that is linked so whenever you make updates or changes both sites are current.
If your answer for this question didn’t come to you immediately, then you probably need help maintaining your website. Have peace of mind of knowing that your site is being routinely backed up is priceless. These backups are the key which will allow professionals to get your site back up and running quickly – with as little downtime as possible – in the event something ever goes wrong.  That is the difference between sleeping through a site disaster and begging your budget hosting provider for help (when they can’t).

3. Fresh, Updated Content
Do you understand the importance of keeping the information on your site current and up to date? Websites that are updated more frequently get crawled more frequently by search engines.  They show that the business is alive and flourishing. They show that the business owners are interested in what’s going on in their markets. If this is done improperly, however, the overall effect can be more negative than positive. Content should be properly formatted and presented in a way that is visually appealing and easy to read. Images should be applicable to the content and be integrated into the overall design. And links must work – broken links can have negative effects on your own SEO (Search Engine Optimization), as well as open you up to a whole host of issues.
Your website should validate and meet W3C standards. Validation is a way of “standardizing” the code that runs behind websites. Web crawlers pay attention to how “clean” your code is. Valid code is clean code and clean code makes web crawlers happy.
It is your website maintenance company that will make sure that your content is properly formatted, looks good on your site, and contains links that are functional while also working to improve your site’s rankings on search engines.

4. Tracking ROI with Solid Analytics
If you want to maximize the return on your website investment, you need to understand and interpret the data that your visitors leave behind for you. A website that exists on the web yet produces no visitors or revenue is a fairly useless website.
By using solid analytics and working in conjunction with your website maintenance company, you can make sure that you understand what is bringing visitors to your site and who they are. You can gain insight into what they are doing when they are there. And, ultimately, you can learn why they are, or are not, doing what you need them to do during their visits.

5. Focus on Your Business
So, allow us to put an idea out there for you: You run your business and we will run your website. You do what you do best; be it business development, sales, generation of new ideas, or anything else that gets you going. We will do what we do best – run and maintain your website. You grow your business and we’ll make sure that the web side of the business is taken care of.

Finally A New MacPro Arrives

john mier

The new MacBook Pro is here … finally, available for preorder at Apple.com now — and we are excited to buy it.  The best thing I can say about the New Mac Pro is simple: everything about it looks and feels so good I almost didn’t believe it.

Let’s look at the star feature: the Touch Bar. What you might not have gathered from the keynote is that it has a matte finish, which makes the buttons on it somehow feel a little more physical. It’s bright, but not so bright that it distracts — it seems to be about on par with the brightness of the backlit keyboard.

I wonder whether or not all these changing function buttons will be useful to the masses that want this computer, but they all seem to make sense to us. There’s no haptic feedback on them, unfortunately, but obviously they all worked perfectly. That included quickly applying filters in Photos and sorting emails in Mail.

You can rearranged buttons (you can find the option in a menu) and it worked, well, as Apple touts. What’s neat about dragging buttons down from the screen to the Touch Bar is that you can keep moving them with the mouse on the second screen.

The most important button when you've got music playing is the "Play/Pause" button. And when the Touch Bar is busy being used for application-specific stuff, it's stone-cold not there. But Apple added a more permanent music options button over on the right, so you can always tap it to get to your music transport controls.

One last neat thing on the Touch Bar: you can tap-and-hold on a bunch of buttons to get to functions faster. Long-press on Reply and you can slide over to Reply-All. Same for other buttons like volume control.

The TouchID feature worked well. I'm told the MacBook Pro now automatically powers on when you open it and that holding down the TouchID button will turn the computer off (the Apple rep here didn't want to show me that, though). 

Now Apple NEDS to give us a few more essential products:

Updated MacPro, New Monitors (Not these partnering with LG replacements) We need monitors up to 42”, not just 27”. There is a huge market for very large screens. These monitors need to be groundbreaking not just large with lots of pixels.

We need a wifi-router-airport extreme. Something awesome and bigger and better than anything out there. Incorporate this with the NEW Apple TV, get rid of so many devices.

Apple is the “core” is the creative-graphics-design-web industry. Apple needs to not only keep but innovate because this is the “halo-effect” strategy that keeps Apple cool.

Does Google Adwords Advertising Work?

john mier

Our business has been using Google AdWords for 8 plus years and it gets potential customers to call us. At the end of the year we look at what we have spent on Google and what it brought in, and it absolutely brings in FAR more than we spend.

I truly believe AdWords can work for almost any business: small, medium, or large. Creating these accounts are not for the faint of heart, they take a lot of time and Google's interface changes often. Washington Graphic builds AdWords accounts for our clients, and we have them up and running in a matter of a few days. Here are details we consider when building each business' AdWords accounts:

Use more restrictive match types: Are all of your match types set to broad? Well, bingo, that's why AdWords is so darn expensive! With broader match types your ads are more likely to be served to a much larger, and sometimes irrelevant audience, leading to wasted clicks. I'm not advising that you stop using broad match keywords, but make sure to set up negatives to block irrelevant searches, bid on phrase and exact keywords at higher bids to get more relevant clicks, and regularly monitor your Search Query report to get a sense of if you're bidding on keywords people are actually searching for.

Target a specific area using zip codes: I always want to stretch our advertising dollars the best we can, SO I only target geographic areas that I think our real customers will come from. I also turn our ads on and off during business times. The key is you want to maximize when your ads are shown and to the right business or people.

Set a realistic budget & bidding strategy: Determining budgets and bids can be a full-time job in itself, but don't over-complicate the process. Map out what you're realistically able to spend on each campaign and set your daily budget accordingly. What about bidding? For budget conscious advertisers, I always recommend bidding manually to have the most granular control over your account without letting Google run the show.

Make sure you're not on Search with Display Select: Being on search and display can work great for the advertiser looking to get the most visibility and branding possible, but often users blindly choose this option and end up confused as to how their daily budget was depleted so quickly. Well, the display network is taking your ads and showing them across the web rather than just in the search results. The intent is different when browsing the web compared to doing a search, so typically I recommend splitting these campaigns and having separate strategies and budgets for each.

Track spend: There can be so many reasons your spend gets out of control. Perhaps your keywords are triggering irrelevant clicks, or you're using automated bidding that is quickly depleting your budget, or an algorithm update caused your spend to skyrocket. The main point here is that you need to be extremely active and review KPI's and spend on a daily basis, even if you set aside just 10 minutes per day. If you do this, you'll be guaranteed to not waste money on irrelevant clicks.

Also don't believe this: We have great SEO, so we don't need to pay for clicks. SEO is a guess on possibly getting placed on the free areas. That means you won't be guaranteed to be placed anywhere. SEO is fine, but no one can promise you a place at the top of each keyword-ed area with AdWords.

Call Washington Graphic Services and let us get your phone ringing with a customized Google AdWords account.

Tradeshow: A source for creating blog content

john mier

Creating blog content can be a large task…for anyone. This can be a real challenge, even for the very experienced. A blog has a never-ending appetite for content, whether it’s the written word, audio, photos or video.

Good news! Your next tradeshow appearance can give you weeks if not months worth of great content.

Be prepared or have a staff member at Washington Graphic Services attend and these are the items we can do.  Keep a notepad handy or whatever device you use to make notes. Could be your smartphone: just open up the audio recorder, make a few comments, put a label and that’s it.

You can get blog post ideas from prospects, visitors and your competition. Ask questions about problems they’re looking to solve and challenges they’re facing. Ask what specific industry they’re in and jot it down. Ask what the hot items are in your visitor’s world. Note what your competition is promoting and what they’re leaving behind that surprises you. Talk to industry leaders if you can find them, ask about products and services that their customers are asking about, and ask about what problems they also face in serving their clients.

Take photos and videos. If you have a client in your booth, ask them to sit down for a 60-second testimonial and ask what they like about your product. Take photos of booth staffers, managers and visitors (make sure you get names of visitors), and post them on your blog and on social media.

Ask your staffers what they learned – what their takeaways were at the end of the show. Ask what worked, what didn’t.

A tradeshow has oodles of ideas for content. All you have to do it be aware, make notes, record bits and pieces with your camera and write it up back at the hotel as well as when you get back to the office. You’ll have content ideas for weeks or months to come!

A staff member at Washington Graphic Services can write, edit, create all blog and social media content…we can even attend trade shows and record all the events and going-ons!

Should you write blog posts or e-mail newsletters?

john mier

If you have to choose ... what would it be? You have to choose between writing a weekly blog post, or writing a weekly newsletter. 

Will a blog post or newsletter be a bigger win for your business?

Benefits of writing a newsletter

The #1 reason to write a newsletter is to strengthen your relationship with an existing audience.

Each time you write a newsletter and hit send, you have an immediate audience.

When you run a blog, someone has to discover that there’s a new article EVERY TIME you post.

People who want to hear from you won’t remember to go regularly to your blog to see new articles.

Let’s say your target is to reach an audience of 1,000 people who care about the problem your business solves.

With a newsletter, you can build an engaged audience of 1,000 over time. Direct people to your newsletter sign up page. You can even start building interested readers before you write your first newsletter. 

Benefits of writing posts on a blog.

The #1 reason to write blog posts is to reach new people.

Blog posts are more sharable through email and social media. People often ask for an archive of our newsletters to share with friends. If you’re writing interesting content (and you should be), then people will want to spread it on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Blog posts are indexed by Google and other search engines! This is a HUGE plus.

If you write articles, and let’s say you write an article about “roofing companies in Washington, DC”. Chances are that when someone searches for that in the future they will find your article.

Washington Graphic Services says...do both! We can write content, design, program, update all your posts and email news! 

Washington Graphic Services Retainer Packages

john mier

Are graphic design service retainers right for you?

Meeting the communication design needs of your business is allot of work. If your communication design needs vary throughout the year, arise unexpectedly, or you have ongoing needs for design services that don’t require having a designer on staff, a creative retainer might be the perfect solution for your business.

What is a creative retainer?

A creative retainer is a 12-24 month agreement between your business and ours that allows you to contract for as few as 4 hours of service per month. A creative retainer gives you instant access to a wide range of professional graphic design services minus the overhead associated with a permanent employee.

What are the advantages of a creative retainer?

By entering a creative retainer agreement, you can save 20% or more on graphic design services. The more hours you commit to, the lower your hourly rate is. With a creative retainer, Washington Graphic Services reserves your retainer time exclusively for you, so even if you have rush work, or an unplanned need, our creative staff can respond to your needs immediately.

For multiple small projects, you can take advantage of your combined work volume, and avoid the need to seek estimates, manage multiple contracts, and pay multiple invoices. A creative retainer can also stabilize your monthly services budget.

What services are included in a creative retainer?

Graphic design, logos, branding, illustration, power-point projects and templates, strategic consulting, interim creative management, website design and maintenance, email template design, research, writing, editing, print management, recruiting and design project management services are all included in our creative retainer agreements. 

What services are not included in a creative retainer agreement?

A creative retainer does not cover expenses like printing, stock photography licensing, and subcontractor fees. Our Creative Director will consult with you before beginning work to identify any fees or costs that may be billed in addition to your creative retainer agreement.

Will I receive an accounting of my hours?

Each month, Washington Graphic Services will prepare a report that shows all of the time we’ve spent on your projects.

You create your package by choosing the number of monthly design hours. Washington Graphic Services offers packages ranging from 4 hours to 40 hours per month at a rate of $75.00 per hour. WGS also offers a unlimited package stating at $1,500 a month to cover all your graphic and web monthly needs. Call us to discuss how a creative retainer package can work for you.

Tips for Creating a Successful Google AdWords Campaign

john mier

As Google will (and does) tell you, you don't necessarily have to spend a lot on AdWords to get a lot out of the pay-per-click advertising UNLESS you have allot of competition and want to stay on the top of the list. Even if you have a small daily budget, you want to make sure your money is not being wasted -- or at least try to ensure that the right people are clicking on your AdWords campaigns. ALWAYS turn your ads off/on during hours you think your customers will be looking for your services. Turn off/on your ads during days of the week you think your customers will be searching. You want to avoid spammers from overseas clicking on your ads to send you e-junk.

So to find out how your business can improve the odds of your AdWords campaigns reaching your target audience or customers, Google AdWords users and experts offer their 10 top tips for AdWords success.

1. Have a clear goal. The most important part of any SEM [search engine marketing] campaign is to have a clear goal in mind. Most business are looking to improve sales. So have your ads and your website designed to sell your product or service!

2. Keep your target customer in mind when writing your ads.

3. Don't mislead customers. Ads need to be entirely accurate for the landing page advertised. Your top targeted keywords should be used in the content included on that landing page and in the ads text.

4. Use negative keywords. Negative keywords are keywords related to other keywords in the campaign that are not related to what is being advertised. This drives better quality traffic and leads to your landing pages, while also improving your Google AdWords Quality Score.

5. Have a mobile/tablet version too!. Use mobile-preferred ads within your enhanced campaigns. This allows for customized message and mobile specific calls-to-action (CTAs) that will speak directly to your mobile users.

6. Testing and Maintenance. Identify your AdWords campaign goal/action, plan create various tests to try to maximize your outcome. Don’t build your AdWords campaign and walk away. Go to it multiple times monthly. Look at traffic, bids, who/what is seeing your ads and site and make changes and try new variations and keyword combinations. You need to make sure your not outbid and that you are still relevant.

6. Use a Pro. Have a professional Adwords campaign builder create your ads, keywords and your site. They all work together. Don’t let anyone build your site or campaign UNLESS they know your business well and can give you specific strategies on how to increase sales through website marketing efforts.

7. Implement conversion tracking. See what keywords are triggering a sale or a lead. Create feedback forms that on on your site that go directly to specific departments for tracking.

10. Monitor and tweak your campaigns. It can be hard to manage by yourself but a good campaign needs to be monitored and tweaked. Do not let your website or your campaign be static. This is a marketing investment. Work on it regularly.

Call Washington Graphic Services for FAST AdWord Campaign builds with ongoing monthly marketing/website strategies.