Monday, December 14, 2009

In Digital Era, Marketers Still Prefer a Paper Trail

An excerpt from the Wall Street Journal - Friday, October 16, 2009 - By Jeffrey Ball

"Never is the elusiveness of a paperless world more evident that at this time of year, when mail boxes overflow with catalogs and holiday cards.

More than 17 billion catalogs were mailed in the U.S. last year - about 56 for every American. So why does the catalog, which helped Richard Sears launch his eponymous retail empire more than a century ago, continue to thrive in the electronic age? Because glossy catalog pages still entice buyers in a way that computer images don't. Catalogs, marketers say, drive sales at Web sites, making them more important than ever.

Among retailers who rely mainly on direct sales, 62% say their biggest revenue generator is a paper catalog, according to the latest survey by the Direct Marketing Association of its members. Only a fifth of those retailers say they draw their biggest sales from their Web sites.

That is why virtually no one expects the mail-order catalog to go away - even though only 1.3% of those catalogs generated a sale, a survey found.

Internet retailing has environmental consequences, notably energy-consuming Web servers. The catalog industry says it is working hard to reduce the environmental impact of its mailings by pushing retailers to increase their reliance on recycled paper and by making it easier for consumers to opt out of mailings they don't want to receive."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Which is Greener: Paper or Digital? The Answer May Surprise You - a Blog

The DocuMentor Blog recently posted an interesting article on a subject we've been following closely:

Even though my brain is infused with a little too many toner particles, the Doc assumes that anything we can do to reduce paper consumption is good for the planet. But what about the significant impact of digital waste?

For a fascinating read, take a look at this interview with Don Carli, the Doc’s good friend and Executive Vice President of SustainCommWorld LLC and Senior Research Fellow with the Institute for Sustainable Communication. Here’s a few highlights from Don:

“Other than pushing the ‘cool’ factor, one of the main selling points being made by marketers of eReaders is that they are greener than print. It is little surprise that the common view held by consumers who don’t know the backstory is that going digital means going green and saving trees. Many are in for a rude awakening. When subjected to ‘cradle-to-cradle’ life cycle analysis, eReading is not nearly as green as many naively assume it is.”

“There is no question that print media could do a better job of managing the sustainability of its supply chains and waste streams, but it’s a misguided notion to assume that digital media is categorically greener. Computers, eReaders, and cell phones don’t grow on trees and their spiraling requirement for energy is unsustainable.”

“Making a computer typically requires the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals including gold, silver, and palladium as well as extensive use of plastics and hydrocarbon solvents. To function, digital devices require a constant flow of electrons that predominately come from the combustion of coal, and at the end of their all-too-short useful lives electronics have become the single largest stream of toxic waste created by man. Until recently, there was little, if any, voluntary disclosure of the lifecycle ‘backstory’ of digital media.”

“Sadly, print has come to be seen as a wasteful, inefficient and environmentally destructive medium, despite the fact that much of print media is based on comparatively benign and renewable materials. In addition, print has incredible potential to be a far more sustainable medium than it is today… and a truly digital medium as well. Despite its importance to business, government and society, print has been cast in the role of a dark old devil in decline. Digital media has been cast as the bright young savior on the rise.”

“Ironically the future of digital media and eBook readers is likely to be based on flexible polymer electronics manufactured using printing presses rather than silicon semiconductor fabrication technologies. In fact, the next generation of eReaders will most likely be digital AND be printed.”

There is a lot more from Don that the Doc guarantees will stimulate your neural economy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trees Are The Answer >> to Climate Change?

"As a natural, renewable resource, trees are the answer to many challenges facing our society today — most notably climate change.

Trees are one of the most efficient “solar-powered carbon collectors” that we have at our disposal. Every day, all day, during the active growing season (from May to August in mid west/north east) millions upon millions of trees of all sizes are busy taking carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, out of the atmosphere and storing it in their trunks, branches, leaves and roots. We call this sequestration, and it is highly effective.

So if trees are the answer, you might say, shouldn’t we stop using them to build houses or a dining room table, to make a sheet of paper, or for firewood? That’s the last thing we should do.

Four reasons come immediately to mind:

Trees are living things. When they die, they decompose, releasing the carbon they had stored back into the atmosphere. When a tree is converted into a house or a table or a ream of paper, the carbon remains sequestered for as long as that product remains in use. If the product is recycled then the carbon is re-stored in a new product.

Turning trees into products takes less energy than common substitutes such as cement or steel. That means less carbon gas is released to the atmosphere in the manufacturing process.

When a tree is used for fuel, such as firewood, we offset the use of fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) that would otherwise have to be burned. Burning wood does release carbon dioxide, but remember that the tree would decompose and release its stored carbon back to the atmosphere anyway; so the net carbon contribution is nil.

Most importantly, trees are a renewable resource. Once a tree is cut to meet society’s needs, another grows to take its place and immediately begins to sequester more carbon.

Can trees—and sustainable forest management practices– solve our climate change problems all on their own? Of course not. But they are a critically important part of the solution — and another reason I’m proud to be in the business of growing trees.

Footnote: “Trees are the answer” campaign is led by the Soceity of American Foresters. To learn more, please visit

Monday, October 26, 2009

Certified Forest Products: A Great Choice for the Environment

The Conservation Fund President and CEO Larry Selzer wrote a guest blog appearing on yesterday, which is pasted below for your reference. He outlines the critical role of forests in combating climate change and providing many other benefits. He also explains the importance of credible forest certification programs such as SFI.  To view the online version, visit SFI Inc.'s Blog at Good For Forests.

Certified Forest Products: A Great Choice for the Environment
Published: Thursday, 22 Oct 2009 | 12:03 PM ET
By: Larry Selzer, President & CEO, The Conservation Fund
There is not much debate that the environmental issue at the forefront of our minds these days is climate change.  
There is also no doubt that by taking care of our forests we can address a lot of environmental challenges - including some related to climate change.
Just think for a moment what forests provide.

They are natural filters - removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing carbon as plants, leaf litter and soil.
They provide habitat and support biodiversity, they regulate water flows and protect water quality. They offer enjoyment and recreation. They also support local economies, and deliver a stable, and renewable, supply of the wood and paper products.
That's right. 
The many benefits of natural forests are often found in managed forests that supply the products we use every day. And the economic value is an added incentive for owners to manage their forests with care, and to maintain them as forest rather than selling them for profit - which often results in the forests being turned into malls or subdivisions.
At The Conservation Fund, we have long recognized this.  We know that forests offering value economically and socially are more likely to continue offering value environmentally.
That's why we work with many partners to help communities develop sustainable solutions that integrate economic return with environmental quality.
That's also why we certify our forest lands to a credible third-party certification program, and make sure we always ask for wood and paper products with on-product labels that show the fiber is from responsible, legal sources.
Third-party forest certification began as a response to market concerns about questionable forest activities, primarily in developing countries, and has become an important tool to promote sustainable forest management and responsible procurement around the world.
Only 10 percent of the world's forests are certified and half of these certified lands are found in North America. 
That's likely because we have a choice of credible programs - such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council. These programs have been endorsed by respected organizations and governments around the world, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and France.
An on-product label that says a product is certified to a program such as SFI or FSC delivers assurance you are making a choice that represents conservation of biological diversity, protection of special sites, sustainable harvests, respect for local communities, and much more.
In the United States and Canada, we are extremely fortunate. At a time when global deforestation and degradation account for 17 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, our forest land area is actually stable, if not increasing. At a time when illegal forest activities are contributing to deforestation and habitat destruction, we have laws in place to keep our forest lands healthy and resilient, making them less susceptible to wildfire, insects and disease.
And on top of that, we have the option of buying independently certified wood and paper products that we know come from responsible and legal sources.
Larry Selzer is president and CEO of The Conservation Fund (, an environmental non-profit that works with many partners to demonstrate sustainable conservation solutions by integrating economic and environmental goals.

Monday, September 28, 2009

AGC is an Emerald Awards Finalist - Crain's Cleveland Business

Academy Graphic Communication is pleased to announce we are a 2009 Finalist in the Crain's Cleveland Business Emerald Awards! The Emerald Awards recognize Northeast Ohio companies that have implemented sustainable strategic priorities to reduce their environmental footprint.

An independent panel of judges reviewed the nominations that included information on an organization's sustainability initiative and goals, as well as the results and impact of those efforts on the triple bottom line: People, Profits and Planet.

The judges were Nicholas Zingale, CEO of Affinity Consultants Inc., Colette Chandler of The Marketing Insider, and Glen Hasek editor and publisher of Middleburg Heights-based Green Lodging News.

Academy Graphic Communication (AGC) is an integrated marketing solutions provider specializing in design, corporate identity and brand implementation, direct marketing, print literature, sustainable solutions, print production, direct mail, web design and other marketing related services.

AGC seeks to promote the responsible use of paper and encourage renewable marketing practices. We have made a concerted effort to research trends, present our findings to our clients and prospects and to adopt policies and procedures to minimize or neutralize the environmental impact of our business practices.

Paper is one of the few truly renewable and recyclable raw materials available with the smallest carbon footprint. By aligning our paper use with the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative we’re able to ensure forests are responsibly managed and the paper we use is renewable and sustainable.

AGC also recognizes that environmental sustainability is a community-wide effort. We seek to showcase local resources, to create greater awareness of the options available within our community and highlight how innovative, forward-thinking individuals and groups can draw on each other’s expertise to make a bigger difference together.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Are Pixels Greener than Paper?

"More and more people are communicating with electronic media. But are electronic devices the most effective environmental choice for getting information?

Ever decision to communicate has some impact on the environment. For example, whether we email or send a letter, we consumer energy and resources. There are environmental tradeoffs in every choice we make, and there is no simple 'right answer'. Effective stewardship requires a careful examination of the larger picture that compares the entire lifecylce, from raw materials to energy use and end of life, to fully understand the impact and performance of both electronic media and paper.

The facts may surprise you.

RAW MATERIALS: Are they Sustainable?
PAPER: on of the great things about paper is that its primary raw materials are renewable. The paper and forest products industry replenishes more than it takes and ensures the sustainability of our forest by planting 1.7 million trees every single day, more than three times what is harvested. And the U.S. Dept. of Energy has stated that the carbon sequestered on forest lands in 2006 was greater than the carbon released from harvesting wood over the same period.

ELECTRONICS: Making a computer typically requires the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, including gold, silver and palladium, as well as the extensive use of plastics and hydrocarbon solvents. The life span of a computer is short, and electronics have become the fastest growing waste stream in the world.

PULP AND PAPER INDUSTRY: OUr industry is on of the biggest users of renewable, low-carbon energy in the world. Sixty percent of the enrgy used to make paper in the U.S. comes form carbon-neutral renewable resources and is produced on site at mills. In addition, these facilities use combined heat and power (CHP) generation systems, which are 80-90% efficient. Fossil fuel use and purchased energy in this industry is steadily decreasing.

ELECTRONIC DATA CENTER SERVERS: Taking only the servers that power the Internet as comparison, the electronics industry uses more than 90% fossil fuels purchased off the grid, which are greenhouse gas emitting. The conventional power-generation systems used are only 45-50% efficient. And the consumption rate for data centers in the U.S. alone doubled from 2000-2006 and is set to double again by 2011.

END OF LIFE: How Does it Break Down?
PAPER: paper is a biodegradable substance that is also recyclable and reusable. Nearly 60% of all paper in the U.S> is recycled and more than 63% of the fiber used to make new paper products in the U.S. comes from recycled sources.

ELECTRONICS: Only 18% of all electronic devices are currently recycled. 1.84 million tons of these devices were disposed of in U.S> landfills in 2006, and an estimated 30-40 millions PCs will be ready for disposal in each of the next few years. Additionally, e-waste now constitutes our single largest toxic waste export.

The fact is both print and electronic media must become increasingly more sustainable to survive, and the choices we make should be based on a data-driven comparative analysis of life cycle, carbon footprint and total environmental impact. The paper and forest products industry has been addressing sustainability for decades, and now adheres to many third-party certification standards and government regulations.

The future sustainability of our society is dependent upon sustainable supply chains over the life cycle of the medium with which we choose to communicate. The ultimate question is not electronics or paper, but what combination of these has the least total impact on our environment."

Source: International Paper Sustainability

International Paper
Academy Graphic Communication
Abundant Forest
International Energy Agency
Environmental Protection Agency

Forest Certification Labels Matter

A Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified vendor protects wildlife, plants, soil, water and ultimately, people.

TerraChoice Environmental Marketing recently named FSC and SFI as two of the most common, credible eco-labels. According to TerraChoice, FSC and SFI met all criteria of a credible eco-label, including third party certification, a publicly available standard and a transparent standard development process.

On product labels show proof of the product's adherence to certification standards. Promotional logos are a way for companies to advertise their commitment to protecting the future of our forests. In certified forest today, for every tree logged 3-4 are planted in it's place. Supporting, promoting and patronizing certified vendors, ensures you are are fulfilling a promise for a sustainable future today and for generations to come.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

NAPL Nominates AGC for an Environmental Award

"We are delighted to provide this letter of support for AGC’s nomination for the Northeast Ohio Environmental Award. AGC is a member in good standing with NAPL, the National Association for Printing Leadership. NAPL is a not-for-profit business management association representing progressive leadership companies in the $120+ billion graphic communications industry. Located in Cleveland, OH, AGC is a full-service, eco-friendly marketing communications company and was recognized by NAPL this year for a Marketing Award in green/sustainability efforts in the printing industry.

Nominated Program: AGC has produced a capabilities brochure in a desk calendar format. Entitled 52 Weeks 52 Works, the project highlighted ways community businesses could be more environmentally friendly in producing their own corporate material. In addition, the project showed how AGC is leading the way toward more environmentally conscious work processes through its own continuous improvement and integration of new environmentally friendly technologies into its manufacturing processes.

Community Needs Addressed: AGC recognizes that environmental sustainability is a community-wide effort. The project was designed to showcase local talent to create greater awareness of resources available in the community and highlight how innovative, forward-thinking individuals and groups can draw on each other’s expertise to make a bigger difference together. As part of the project, AGC developed a list of best practices local businesses could use when undertaking new communications projects including using nontoxic soy and vegetable-based inks and varnishes and looking for FSC certified business partners.

Innovative Solutions: The AGC project notes that: “Images are powerful marketing tools.” The entire project is a graphic symbol of how to produce an effective marketing piece while maintaining environmental stewardship. AGC is becoming a local thought leader on how to approach a traditional communications effort in an innovative and environmentally consciousness- raising way. In teaching about environmental alternatives including not only recycled paper, but recycled inks and solvents, AGC is encouraging change in standard business communication procedures while leading by example.

Effect or Impact: AGC has been proactive in teaching clients to consider the entire life-cycle of a product or campaign from raw material usage to end use and disposal. The calendar is well known throughout the creative community as an outlet for highlighting local talent. By dedicating this familiar vehicle to environmental messaging, the project sought to invoke change through a ripple effect, providing a strong message and environmentally sound options currently available to those responsible for other local business marketing efforts. In addition, many of AGC’s clients are nonprofit organizations in northern Ohio including education and health care organizations. By demonstrating their services, AGC is encouraging other organizations on lean budgets to consider environmental alternatives for their business communications needs.

Leadership Qualities: The high quality project demonstrates that environmental products and production processes have improved to the point where no compromises are necessary for businesses to achieve effective and excellent effectiveness in their own customer outreach efforts. In order to produce the piece, AGC, itself, has undergone substantial changes in its production processes. As a result, it was the first commercial printing facility in Ohio to be dual certified by both the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative. It invested heavily in upgrading equipment throughout the print cycle and exclusively uses EcoPride process inks and varnishes. Its comprehensive recycling program goes beyond most printers who simply use recycled paper and AGC’s processes includes a zero waste management system. AGC applies the same stringent standards to its own partners and vendors, thereby encouraging a complete Chain of Custody sustainability program.

When discussing environmental concerns, there is much hype put out by key lobbying groups on the negative impact paper, inks and print can have on the environment. Much less is known about the industry’s dedication to forest stewardship and ongoing commitment to environmentally friendly means of helping people communicate effectively. Personal communication is a key human trait, and electronic communication vehicles appear to be environmentally friendly but use enormous energy resources largely unaccounted for by many who purport to be environmentally friendly. Through its unique efforts, AGC has stayed committed to the print medium and its potential to make a difference in people’s lives while demonstrating how environmental issues can be proactively addressed.

Please consider AGC for this prestigious local award. They are certainly deserving."

Submitted by:

Rhona Bronson
SVP Marketing
75 W. Century Rd., Suite 100
Paramus, NJ 07652

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

52 Weeks 52 Works - Now Accepting 2010 Submissions

52 Weeks 52 Works is an annual desk calendar published entirely by Academy Graphic Communication highlighting the talent of Northeast Ohio (NEO) Artists.

The deadline for submission is September 14, 2009

We are amidst the production of the 8th annual desk calendar and we need your talent! Any artist living and working in NEO is eligible (nudity and explicit imagery are restricted). If you are interested or if you know any one who may be interested please forward this information along. You can view the 52 Weeks 52 Works 2009 calendar online or click on the submission form image below.

Upon completion of the calendar every artist will receive 2 copies along with your returned submission. You will see first hand the impressive results achieved when combining the versatility of eco-friendly print communication with the unique talent of NEO’s local artists.

If interested or for more information please contact me or 216-661-2550.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Environmental Awards for Sustainability and Best Practices

2009 Northeast Ohio Environmental Awards
The Biodiversity Alliance and Dominion are proud to announce that nominations are now being accepted for the 2009 Northeast Ohio Environmental Awards. The awards program recognizes and honors the outstanding achievements of organizations, businesses and individuals in a wide range of environmental initiatives throughout the region and pays tribute to those that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence, leadership and accomplishment in their respective fields.

Awards categories are:
Primary/Secondary Education
Higher Education

The awards are open to any group, program, organization, business or individual located and working in Northeast Ohio. Nominations can be made by the person or persons involved in the activity or by a third party and must address activities or initiatives that were in place in 2008. Successful nominees will demonstrate some measure of results achieved and/or impact of the activities. All nominations will be evaluated by an independent panel of judges.

All finalists will be honored at an awards ceremony to be held at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History on Friday, October 2, 2009. Award winners will be presented with a plaque and a cash award of $2,500 during the ceremony.
For more information or to download a submission form please visit Biodiversity Alliance

Crain's Emerald Awards
The Crain’s Cleveland Business Emerald Awards recognize Northeast Ohio companies that have implemented sustainable strategic priorities which significantly trim costs or increase cash flow with innovations and products that reduce its environmental footprint.

This program defines sustainability as the commercialization or adaptation of processes and products which are both feasible, economical and make a positive impact on the triple bottom line: Profits, People, Planet.

Crain's will be soliciting nominations of companies, organization and executive leadership in a wide array of categories, such as:

* New or Improved Processes — Reducing energy and/or raw material consumption, zero-waste manufacturing and resource conservation management.

* New Product Creation — Development of new components for alternative energy sources (e.g., parts for windmills and fuel cells).

* Decreased Energy Consumption — Innovations in equipment, physical plant and employee behaviors.

* Supply Chain — Working with suppliers to create energy-efficient logistics, implementing fair trade agreements.

* Land Revitalization — Restoring brownfields to viable business use, restoring habitat.

Judging will be done by a panel of experts from each discipline, applying specific metrics against how well each submission delivers on what we are calling “the triple bottom line” of profits, planet and people. Finalists will be announced in the pages of Crain's and the winners will be feted at an awards event later this year.

For more information or to download a submission form please visit Crain’s Cleveland Business Emerald Awards

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Myths Surrounding Paper - what is the most sustainable solution?

Paper has been around for almost 2000 years, and during this time it has undoubtedly established itself as the most effective and versatile means of communication.

Even in today’s digital age with the availability of alternative media, paper’s unique practical and aesthetic qualities simply can’t be achieved by using electronic alternatives. That’s not to say that one is less suitable than the other. Both paper-based & electronic communication have a role to play and can compliment each other.

In recent years, however, paper has been the target of negative and often misinformed environmental criticism. Listening to some people, its benefits are outweighed by the mass of misleading environmental disadvantages; shrinking forests, excessive energy consumption, and overflowing landfill sites. So as far as the environment is concerned, paper appears bad.

While paper does use trees, its production does consume energy and too often, waste paper ends up in landfill sites, it is also one of the few truly renewable and recyclable raw materials we have.

A few facts about paper:

• Paper production is not a major cause of deforestation

• Industrial wood, pulp and paper production saves forests

• Paper is a fully renewable, sustainable resource

• For every tree logged in managed forests, 3–4 are replanted

• Forest certification promotes wood from managed forests

• We plant more trees than we harvest for making paper

• The paper industry is one of the biggest users of renewable, low carbon energy

• Half the energy used to make paper in Europe comes from renewable sources

• Very often, the water used to make paper is cleaner when it comes out of the mill than when it goes in

• Growing forests absorb carbon dioxide helping to counter the Greenhouse Effect

What others are saying:
‘Forestry, paper and packaging are among the most sustainable industries in existence’
CEO Perspectives 2008, Price Waterhouse Coopers

‘Almost half of the timber harvested from the world’s forests is used to make paper products, so the paper industry has a huge opportunity to make sure that those forests are responsibly managed and will be here for generations to come’ In managed forests, for every tree cut down, three to four are replanted in its place. It’s estimated that there are 25% more trees in the developed world today than there were in 1901.
Forest Stewardship Council

‘A sustainably managed forest can be relatively carbon neutral if logging is balanced with re-growth’
The Sustainable Procurement of wood & Paper products: An introduction.

‘Reading a newspaper can consume 20% less carbon than viewing news online’
Swedish Royal Institute for Technology

'The paper industry has eight representatives in the UN’s list of the world’s 100 most sustainable companies, more than any other industry’
Promotion of Paper
Australian Paper Industry Association, 2008

'When people use more paper, suppliers plant more trees. If we want bigger commercial forests, then we should use more paper not less. Our policies should directly protect important wildlife habitats, not try to reduce our demand for paper.’
Edward L. Glaeser,
Professor of Economics at Harvard University
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company

'There aren't many industries around that can aspire to becoming genuinely sustainable. The paper industry, however, is one of them; it s inherently sustainable.'
Jonathon Porritt, Chairman UK Sustainability Development Commission & Founder Forum for the Future

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wordle - word clouds

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Image source

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Integrated Marketing Defined - think broad media mix

Integrated Marketing Communication is the cohesive execution of all your online and offline media efforts. Audiences today are increasingly fragmented, and multiple media are needed to reach them. A marketing platform should include print, direct mail, interactive, web advertising, and social media providing a constant flow of the message from sender to receiver.

Capturing data and information from your integrated marketing strategy is critical to developing leads. More and more customers have the expectation that they can anonymously get information online. It's just one more reason companies should be thinking about a broad media mix. Companies need multiple means to identify and collect sales lead data.

Integrated campaigns typically center around a strong web presence — usually a website or a blog, sometimes a microsite — but should also include print, direct mail, email, television, radio and social media to support and publicize that web presence.

Direct Mail and Print is the "welcomed intruder" and is still considered to be the most effective tool in lead generation. Coupled with the current CASS and NCOA requirements, your mailing list is pretty much guaranteed to be up to date. And the post office will forward mail if an address update is identified after the piece reaches the post office.

Email is a great follow-up tool, although there are still some major delivery issues when using it to acquire leads and prospects (scoring in at 10% below direct mail as reported by an Target Marketing study in January 2008 of 340 direct marketers) . Email is considered effective and efficient in communicating with existing customers for retention purposes.

Developing microsites is a great way for your direct mail campaign to assist with your email campaign and help you keep your email list clean and track the results of both online and offline campaigns.

Ultimately this is the "age of accountability" for the marketing profession. Breaking down the silos between online and offline media campaigns is the solution. Now is the time to crack the code for measuring integrated, cross platform media efforts.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Online and Offline Media = Complete Communications Strategy

The convergence of offline and online media, is the best communication strategy. It recognizes that markets and audiences are
increasingly fragmented and multiple media are essential in communicating to this environment.

Electronic/Digital Media is certainly effective when correctly used, but it comes with limitations - notably it's trendy, untested, ineffective, can result in spam listings, image blocking, phishing, deliverability issues, etc. Additionally, Print Media is certainly effective when correctly used, but it too comes with limitations - it's physical, can get lost, misplaced and there is no data backup, time lag in creation, etc.

However, when used in conjunction or in collaboration, a mix of online and offline media is very effective. The strengths of one solution balance the weaknesses of the other. The Post Office delivers more than 99% of it's mail. On top of that, it forwards mail to new physical addresses. Mailing certification solutions such as CASS and NCOA help you manage your databases. This ensures your message will be delivered to your audience. Using this print media to then stimulate web activity and interactivity can help you communicate with your fragmented audiences, enhance your web presence and keep email address databases clean and vital.

Understanding the various options in the world of business communications and how it's changing can help you in strategizing the right mix of media for your marketing plan.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Improve Your Sustainability Efforts

The United Kingdom's Two Sides initiative has jumped the pond and is making waves right here on the shores of the grand ol' USA.

Even in today’s digital age with the availability of alternative media, paper’s unique practical and aesthetic qualities simply can’t be achieved by using electronic alternatives. That’s not to say that one is less suitable than the other. Both paper-based & electronic communication have a role to play and can compliment each other.

In recent years, however, paper has been the target of negative and often misinformed environmental criticism. Listening to some people, its benefits are outweighed by the mass of misleading environmental disadvantages; shrinking forests, excessive energy consumption, and overflowing landfill sites. So as far as the environment is concerned, paper appears bad.

This site is actually quite interesting and it dispels the myths surrounding paper in a very quick and informative read.

Everyone is familiar with the "Marketing Mix." The right mix for your communication strategy is just that, a mix. Rarely are we advised to throw our proverbial eggs in one basket, and marketing is no exception. A strategic and collaborative mix of communication and messaging is best to truly serve our varied audiences. And paper can serve a portion of your audience.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Great, Contemplative Review of the new Kindle DX

Amazon Kindle DX: The Solution to a problem that doesn't exist

Some Excerpts from the Full Article:
Simply, the Kindle DX is far from being an optimal format for a magazine. Not only does the Kindle DX’s monochrome screen sap all the life away from the art department of every publication, but it also removes the “two-page” magazine feel: A picture or design element that spans two pages, which is presented more often than you think in glossies. By only viewing a magazine one page at a time, you’re reading a stunted publication — even if the PDF support makes it easy to get a magazine on the device in the first place.

But it simply isn’t quite there as a substitute for the real thing. Is anyone complaining about how hard it is to get the news? Or how heavy a newspaper is? Is anyone complaining about anything but the price of textbooks?

But it in no way makes me any more likely to ditch my habitual reading of each morning, or my subscription to GQ, or the occasional newsstand purchase I may make. And as a student, I simply couldn’t see fronting that kind of cash for a device whose features significantly overlap with a required laptop, which allows me to read my course readings and news and write a paper about it.

It’s hard not to like the Kindle, mainly because it aims to revolutionize a task anyone reading this article is fond of: reading. But until Amazon reproduces that experience in a more complete fashion and makes reading as inexpensive a habit as it currently is, it will remain out of reach for most consumers and out of touch with most publishers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Amazon Kindle - dependent on the printed word?

Printing is ubiquitous even in the era of Web 2.0 and digital everything.

As new technologies are developed to replace print, they constantly seek to replicate print. For example this description of the Kindle:
A Paper-like Screen
Utilizing a new high-resolution display technology called electronic paper, Kindle provides a crisp black-and-white screen that resembles the appearance and readability of printed paper. The screen works using ink, just like books and newspapers, but displays the ink particles electronically. It reflects light like ordinary paper and uses no backlighting, eliminating the glare associated with other electronic displays.

This line is particularly interesting: The screen works using ink, just like books and newspapers, but displays the ink particles electronically. Does this mean, in order for the Kindle to work, the item you are selecting to read on your Kindle must first exist as a printed word?

I met a Printing/Paper/Marketing veteran at a conference this past March. As we discussed the role of print in the future he suggested "Print will become like a fine wine or cigar, only the most special things, the stuff you want to revere and hold onto will be printed." I think I agree. In the era of "anyone can publish anything online" when you receive something printed it instantly feels more special, and you have more trust in it's content. Digital technologies strive to replicate print, but print delivers.

At AGC, we continuously monitor new technologies and emerging trends. As we evaluate these new 'options', we seek to understand how they relate to you and your business and how they relate to AGC. We then adapt our services and products accordingly to best serve the needs of our clients and the demands of your marketing strategy or agenda.

The Debate Continues: Offset vs. Digital

In the latest issue of American Printer, a trade publication for the commercial printing industry, Steve Johnson pen's an article "The Holy Grail of Digital Printing" where he presents the difference between Digital Printing and Traditional Offset Printing:

Color Consistency
1.) Whereas consistency is king in Traditional Offset Printing, every Digital Press has it's own, very different, color gamut. Color consistency in Digital Printing depends more on the characteristics of the image being produced and the machine it's being produced on.

Production Efficiency
2.) Traditional Offset Press productivity is some 20 times greater than digital printing, with much lower consumable costs. Digital press operations are plagued with downtime and calls to the copier repair technician.

In my opinion, the answer is simple, Productivity and Reliability will always win - your campaign will look like a campaign and your project will actually be delivered on time. Offset remains King!

Enhancing Your Email Marketing

Email Marketing is Becoming More Customer oriented
These days marketers demand far more intricate measurements of customer engagement and interactivity. The e-mail department's key performance indicator used to be how many eyeballs a weekly blast reached. Now the focus is on the percentage of the marketer's online base that the program manages to convert.

Analytics of the past centered on deliverability, file size and permissions, with the primary goal to deliver as much content to as many people as quickly as possible. Today life-cycle-oriented triggers such as click recency, Web-site activity and time-to-engage metrics are the standard.Read More

Intelligent Mail Bar-Coding

Intelligent Mail Barcode
Beginning in May, the U.S. Postal Service will start to accept mail pieces bearing the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB), the much-talked-about system that's expected to make it easier for both mailers and the US Postal Service to track and document mailings. Read More

Twitter Just a Blip?

Twitter Just a Blip So Far:
Findings of the Online The Harris Poll, conducted between March 31 and April1, 2009, show that 51% of Americans do not use Twitter or have a MySapce or Facebook account. Read More

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mail Preparation Standards Changing - AGAIN!

First-Class Mail and Standard Mail Machinable Letters will have a pricing change going into affect on May 11th.

The mail preparation standards for First Class Mail and Standard Mail must now meet all the standards for automation letters, except for the bar code requirement. This change will enable the USPS to process more machinable mail on automated letter sorting machines, especially unenveloped mail such as booklets and folded self-mailers.

The changes include:
- All folded self mailers and booklets mailed at machinable prices must be sealed with tabs, tape, glue spots, or glue lines. Follow the tabbing instructions posted in the Quick Service Guide 201b, Using Tabs, wafer Seals, and Glue Spots.

- The maximum weight for machinable and automation letter-sized booklets and folded self-mailers is 3 ounces.

- Letters closed with staples and letters without closures are nonmachinable and eligible only for nonmachinable prices.

Rest assured, the AGC Fulfillment Yields Interest Mailing Department is adept at quickly responding to the changing needs of the USPS. If you have any questions or if you are concerned about a piece you are currently working on please email us.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

4-Steps to Improved One-to-One Marketing

Marketers are taking a pragmatic view of the recession due to customer anxiety, reduced spending, slow complex selling cycles and more. However, research shows that online marketing is effective, so marketers increasingly need to find new ways to optimize their online and offline activities.
What's crucial is pinpointing the individual customer so precisely that they feel they're being offered a service rather than a sell. With budgets under pressure, the range of activities will be limited, so a much greater focus will be placed on retention and development of existing customers. High-value customers must be singled out, along with those with the greatest potential for upselling. Such one-to-one marketing has traditionally been difficult to achieve -- segmentation can be expensive and last year's data is less valuable if a significant percentage of database contacts has changed.

The good news is that marketing technology has advanced to make one-to-one marketing real, without necessitating more time and costs for new research. Four key areas can be addressed by these technological advances and innovative marketers may find among them ways in which they can turbo-charge their existing resources.

1. Targeting
Targeting is critical, as it's essential to identify, distinguish and reach customers. Rather than re-populating databases, software can help build a customer picture by drawing on data in various formats and from different locations and channels. Integration with data mining tools makes it possible to perform complex customer analysis, segmentation, and profiling, while detailed browsing behavior gives a view of customer needs and preferences.

2. Messaging
Messaging captivates a customer's attention. Irrelevant messages won't garner a second glance. With the right technology, you can customize a message's text, graphics, et al., at an individual level. Personalization is taken to new heights when thousands of different offers are based on customer attributes and business rules.

3. Timing
Timing is everything. It's possible to pinpoint more than ever the right moment to communicate to customers. Through analyzing customer behavior and events, marketers can detect when customers are likely to be most receptive to offers, or when they're at risk of leaving. Not only can technology monitor risk points, but it can be used to analyze unusual patterns in customer behavior.

As such, marketers have valid reasons to contact customers, be it with opportunities to provide advice or new offers, or to prevent customer loss. By signaling when a customer is most likely to respond to a communication, technology can increase cross-sell opportunities and improve customer satisfaction.

4. Personalized messages
Delivering personalized messages whenever customers connect with a company is powerful. If customers feel that the contact with your organization is not just a one-way process, their receptiveness will increase greatly. Today's interactive marketing technology allows marketers to bring together all forms of marketing communications from scheduled campaigns, event-driven programs, and real-time conversations with customers across multiple channels -- from electronic and print to face-to-face and telephone.

A coordinated approach enables marketers to reach individual customers at the right time with the best offer on their preferred channel. An integrated approach not only builds loyalty, but brings immediate benefits in terms of response rate and ROI.

Success in 2009 and beyond is about making the best use of limited resources. While it's widely accepted that companies should market harder in a recession to be better placed for the economic recovery, not all have the means or conviction to follow this through in the form of increased marketing budgets.

Marketers who can truly get to know their customers will find that the framework they develop will serve two purposes: to maintain and develop the existing customer base now; and grow it when the economic climate becomes rosier.


Plantable Papers? Yes, It's True!

Although they've been around for awhile primarily serving the "crafts" industry, plantable papers are now available for offset printing.

Plantable Papers are handmade, "tree-free", recycled sheets of paper with wildflower seeds embedded in them. Commonly used for invitations, bookmarks, tags, and announcements, after use, you simply plant the paper in a sun drenched area, spread a thin layer of moist soil on the paper and keep the area moist during germination. In about 6-8 weeks your paper will begin to grow!

For more information:
Botanical PaperWorks
Plantable Paper
Plantable Seed Paper
Green Field Paper

New Book Celebrating the Eco-Movement "Green Graphic Design"

A new book Green Graphic Design is celebrating the Eco-Movement with style and grace.

Can a graphic designer be a catalyst for positive change? Breaking down the concept of "green design" step-by-step, respected industry leader Brian Dougherty captures the ability of designers to communicate, persuade, and ultimately spread a socially and ecologically responsible message to both consumers and corporations. Green Graphic Design reframes the way designers can think about the work they create, while remaining focused on cost constraints and corporate identity. Simple, eco-innovative changes are demonstrated in all phases of the design process, including:

Picking projects • Strategizing with clients • Building strong green brands Choosing materials for manufacture and shipping • Picking ink and paper • Binding • Working with clients to foster transparency and corporate social responsibility

Fully illustrated and packed with case studies demonstrating green design in practice, this reference guide explains and inspires. It includes a "sustainability scorecard" and a complete glossary of key terms and resources to ensure that anyone in the design field can implement practical green solutions. Green Graphic Design is an indispensable resource for graphic designers ready to look to the future of their business and the environment.

Published January 2009 by Allworth Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Battle Between Art & the Algorithm

"...It's a world of perfect targeting. Optimization. Zero wastage. Absolute utility. Total accountability...What could possibly be wrong with all this? In this new world where relevance -- of information, of entertainment, of advertising, even of new social contacts -- is increasing by the atomically measured second, all powered by the extraordinary power of the Almighty Algorithm, what are we losing?

Well, these shifts are triggering a smoothing out in our experiences, prompting a reduction in serendipity and introducing a spooky predictability to many facets of our lives. It's becoming clear that ultra relevance comes with a hidden price. Because if everything's relevant, then nothing's unexpected, and if nothing's unexpected, then nothing surprises you, and if nothing surprises you, then that's a strange, neutralized, vanilla kind of life to lead. Think John Anderton meets Truman Burbank.

We're talking about the end of surprise...And right there is the opportunity for marketing: to deliver not just relevance, but revelation..." - Ben Malbon

We believe this is the opportunity for the marketing and communications industry.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

As we celebrate Mother Earth and all her complexities and necessities, it is appropriate to look back over the past year and see how we have minimized our impact and helped our clients minimize their impact on the environment.

The desire for "green products" continues to grow (no pun intended!) and while marketers are faced with more pressure to meet these growing demands, it is important that we refrain from green washing (side note: earlier this week I came across a study conducted by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing regarding greenwashing, while I didn't post about it, I did tweet about it @VisitAGC with a link to read the full study) .

There are many ways to "balance our environmental. social and economic needs and impacts" and making smart choices about the companies you choose to partner with is one of them. AGC has implemented several practices to assist you.

~ AGC is certified to both the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Our initial certification was September 2007. In 2007, we were the first commercial printing facility in the state of Ohio to receive dual-certification.

~ All of our "house sheets" are either Forest Stewardship Council certified or Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified. This means, even if you don't specify an environmental sheet; we're using it. In addition, there is no cost to add the FSC or SFI label to your printed communication.

~ AGC exclusively uses Soy- and Vegetable- based Inks and Varnishes. This also means, even if you don't specify an eco-friendly ink; we're using it. Additionally, there is no cost to add the EcoSmart, EcoPride or Soy Ink logo to your printed communication. We've been using Soy- and Vegetable-based Inks and Varnishes exclusively since 2003. While the choice is environmentally preferable, our initial decision was for the health and safety of our employees. Additionally, pieces printed with eco-friendly inks are easier to de-ink and recycle (see earlier post about DeInking Digital Printing).

~ As many of you are familiar, AGC is the publisher of 52 Weeks 52 Works, the desk calendar featuring Northeast Ohio area artists. The 2009 edition won a National Award for Green/Sustainability Marketing. The entire calendar was produced with a neutral impact on the environment! The press release and production notes are available, please email us if you'd like a copy.

~ At AGC's commercial printing facility, Sustainable Print Solutions, we actively recycle our paper waste, printing plates, waste inks and solvents.

~ AGC's design team, The Creative Advantage, is trained to maximize the printed sheet to minimize waste during production.

~ AGC's Fulfillment Yields Interest mailing team can help you maintain a clean, up-to-date mailing list to help you reduce your direct-mail's environmental impact.

These are just a few of things we're doing to minimize our impact. As we look forward to 2010 we hope this list will continue to grow with more innovative and eco-friendly solutions.

For more information, or if you'd like to share any ideas to help us improve upon our eco-initiatives please post your comments or email us.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4 Reasons Social Media Marketing Fails

And to keep the conversation rolling, we'll play devil's advocate and present a study that has found how Social Media Marketing Fails to deliver on it's promise. At the Web 2.0 Expo in early April a panel was assembled to discuss why "Social Media Marketing Fails". They outlined four key reasons why social media fails to deliver and proposed solutions to strengthen it. The panelists included: Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group's founder Charlene Li, and Peter Kim, an enterprise social-technology researcher.

1. "Social media doesn't match up with our corporate culture."
Social media participation requires change management, Li told the crowd, adding that any effective change management process takes years. Marketers often expect social initiatives to work right away -- and that's rarely how things pan out. Owyang said that social media involves a different model, one that most corporations aren't familiar with: It's a transformation from the classic top-down business model with the CEO at the top to a "bottom-up bubbling" with customers driving ideas and actions.

The transformation won't happen overnight -- especially if senior management isn't involved. "If you want cultural change, you have to get the big guns involved," Li said. "And the only way they'll see this working is if it's aligned to corporate goals."

Kim posed the question of whether it's a good idea for an organization to appoint a chief social officer to take on the pains and sole responsibility of social media marketing. Li said no. The burdens, she said, should essentially be collective and no one particular person should own social media. "That's the most thing dangerous to do, [to say] 'It's not my problem, it's someone else's,' " she said. "It's everyone's responsibility."

2. "My social media marketing campaigns aren't working."
"The biggest problem is using the word 'campaigns,'" Li emphasized. "This is not a campaign - it's a relationship with a customer." Owyang pointed out that a campaign implies a short-term effort. Social media, he said, needs to be long-term. Without long-term goals for social media, projects end up looking like interactive marketing with a social presence. With that in mind, Li brought up companies that often have Facebook fan pages that resemble press releases. The information is vapid and unchanging and there's little conversation.

For conversation to occur, Li said marketers must recognize a shift from "interruptions" to "collaborations." Kim expanded on that notion saying businesses need to change relationships not only with customers but with employees and external constituents, as well. "The way organizations are structured ... and the way they relate in an ecosystem has to be transformed in how we build relationships," he said.

3. "I don't know how to measure this stuff."
Kim said this is probably the biggest fail for marketers in general. Owyang agreed saying that most marketers are measuring social media incorrectly. "They are focusing on the measurements of yesteryear with click-throughs and page views," he said. Yet conversations are occurring in places where those metrics aren't available like on Facebook or on external blogs. "You don't have access to server logs on Facebook or blogs where the conversation spreads," he said. "Even if you have that, it's not effective enough to tell you what's happening."

Owyang relayed that things like page views and the number of comments don't measure emotion or the depth of discussion. He provided a nice automotive example of marketing metrics. "Measuring based on a dashboard is typically the way marketers measure," he said. They look at basic stats. "Instead," he said, "you should be measuring based on your GPS system -- it tells you where have you been, where are you now, and where you are going." In other words, Marketers need to begin listening, rather than just recording numbers.

Li contended that although it's tough to know what to measure with social media, you have to measure against other marketing metrics -- otherwise, it's going to get cut from the budget.

4. "I'm not sure social media matters, anyway."
Owyang made an interesting point in reference to the Motrin Mom ordeal that exploded on Twitter and the blogoshere in November 2008. For kicks, he asked the crowd who hadn't heard of the Motrin Mom occurrence -- a marketing campaign that infuriated moms and blew up on Twitter. Surprisingly, many attendees hadn't heard of the controversy. Owyang made the statement that despite the temporary reputation tarnish, the kerfuffle, essentially drew more people to Motrin's Web site and led to more searches for the brand. Did it lead to fewer purchases of Motrin pain reliever? Probably not. Li stated that at the core of Motrin Mom is the fact that Motrin didn't respond in a timely manner. What's important is that customers wanted to engage with Motrin at the time of outrage, but they couldn't.

The Motrin Mom campaign can be written off as a "social media fail," but that might not be a terrible thing for the brand. In fact, Owyang pointed out Dell's tremendous success now in social media, which essentially sprouted from many failed attempts. It's been a similar strategy for mega-brand Wal-Mart, as well, Li added. Wal-Mart, she said, has kept at it for years, picking itself up after failures and coming ahead stronger with its buyer blogs and mom communities. Kim summed it up by saying that social media might not have the implications on a brand that one would expect -- but it will -- and soon.

Within the conversation of social media fails, Owyang revealed what he sees to be as three main ways organizations interact with social media:

The "tire": Social media comes from the edges of the company and is authentic because there are key stakeholders who are interested and invested in furthering social media efforts. However, Owyang said, one side of the tire has no idea what the other side of the tire is thinking or doing -- and that can be a problem.

The "tower": This approach occurs when management wants to centralize social media. On the upside, this means that employees will have common strategies and resources. However, it "tends to look like rehashed press releases," Owyang said. It's not authentic and customers can tell.

The "hub-and-spoke" model: This is when people from different parts of the organization come together under a centralized goal, but they all link out to different business groups. It's cross-functional, yet not exactly centralized.

Source: Destination CRM. To contact the editors, please email

Top Social Media for Marketers: Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook

"An overwhelming majority (88%) of marketers say they are using some form of social media to market their business, though 72% of those using it say they have only been at it a few months or less, according to a social media study by Michael Stelzner, sponsored by the upcoming Social Media Success Summit 2009.

The study found that Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook - in that order - are the top four social media tools used by marketers, writes Marketing Charts.

The research also included an analysis of nearly 700 open-ended responses, which revealed the top-three questions marketers are asking about social media:

What are the best tactics to use?
How to do I measure the effectiveness of social media?
Where do I start?
When asked if they used social media for marketing purposes, 88% said they are employing some form of it. Business owners are more likely to use social media marketing (90+%) than employees working for a company that is not their own (81%), and respondents ages 30-39 are most likely to use social media marketing (92.8%), the study found. 72% say they have either just started or have been using social media for a few months.

The survey found that there is a direct relationship between how long marketers have been using social media and their weekly time commitment. For people just beginning, the median weekly time commitment is two hours per week. For those who have been at it for months, the median jumps to 10 hours per week. For those who report social media marketing use for years, the median is 20+ hours each week.

Respondents report that the #1 benefit of social media marketing is gaining attention for the business, and 81% say their social media efforts have generated exposure for their businesses.

Improving traffic and growing marketing lists is the second major benefit, followed by building new partnerships. At least two in three participants found that increased traffic occurred with as little as 6 hours a week invested, while those who have been doing this for years reported better results. Owners of small businesses (2 - 100 employees) are more likely than others to report benefits.

More than half of participants say a major benefit is the resultant rise in search engine rankings that often comes with increased efforts.

Though about one in two found social media generated qualified leads, only about one in three said social media marketing helped close business, though this percentage was higher (61.6%) among those who had been using social media for longer periods of time.

By a wide margin, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook are the top four social media tools used by marketers, with Twitter in first place."

Source: Media Buyer Planner

Monday, April 20, 2009

100 Great Resources for Design Inspiration

Here is a great list of resources to inspire your creativity. Thanks to Mashable - The Social Media Guide for the list:

Veer: Ideas - A huge idea gallery from stock photography company Veer formatted as a blog and including news and updates from the company itself.

Delicious CSS - A CSS web design gallery that was founded because of the lack of features for tracking design ideas on traditional social bookmarking sites. Categorizes sites in useful ways (such as by color) in ways that traditional social bookmarking sites don’t.

Raster - A regularly-updated gallery of photography and art with collections broken into “chapters.” Founded in 2001, its only goal is to provide inspirational images from a collective of creative minds.

CSS Galaxy - A very simple French gallery of CSS website designs that selects sites based on their standards-compliance, technique, coherent graphic design, and aesthetic.

CSS Uber Clean - A gallery of exceptional CSS-based designs. The sites featured all contain simple, minimalist, super-clean designs.

deviantART- A gallery for all types of artwork, both traditional and digital, that serves as an excellent source of inspiration for all kinds of projects. Just be careful not to get sucked in and spend three days looking through it when you have deadlines to meet!

muse - A collection of some of the best commercial artwork out there. Includes interviews with the artists who create the designs that reveal what their inspiration was.

Behance Network - Features a gallery of all kinds of creative projects including illustration, music, web design, typography, photography and more.

Depthcore - An international collective of modern art and digital media that releases chapters every three or four months featuring work contributed by members.

Designflavr - A gallery featuring all kinds of artwork and design including Flash websites, CSS websites, vector art, advertising, abstract design, photo manipulation, and more.

Web Creme - A web design gallery with more than 330 pages of great designs. Search the archives by the month a design was featured or by color.

CSS Remix - A gallery of beautiful CSS designs where you can sort designs by what’s popular or up-and-coming.

Typechart - A gallery of typography for the web with CSS styles included. You can search available styles by font, emphasis (whether something is bold, italic, etc.), type size (heading, body, etc.) and more. Also lets you compare Windows ClearType rendering and Apple font rendering.

CreativeDepart - A gallery of design, art, photography, and more with its own inspiring design. Their goal is to increase awareness of the designs they love to open up more avenues to the creators they admire. You can also submit designs you’d like to see become a part of the site.

CSS Mania - Another CSS gallery with more than 13,000 sites and a blog. View galleries by month or by topic (associations, media, web developers, blogging, etc.) - A gallery featuring more than 10,000 website screenshots. Offers an RSS feed for keeping up with the best new website designs online.

One Page Love - An awesome collection of single-page websites. Covers portfolios, applications, and even temporary landing pages with enough information to help a visitor make an appropriate decision. Also includes searchable tags for finding
inspiration from similar sites.

Design Snack - Features two different galleries, one for XHTML/CSS designs and one for Flash. You can browse designs by color or category.

Design Shack - A searchable CSS gallery with more than 1700 designs that lets you browse by category (such as blog, magazine, photography, design, etc.), layout, or color.

eduStyle - Designing websites for educational institutions is sometimes more challenging due to the volume of information and the intended audiences (after all, it has to appeal to current students, prospective students, parents, professors, alumni, etc.). This site has a huge gallery of college and university websites sorted by categories and tags, and also features articles on design and other resources.

COLOURlovers - A community-based color gallery that includes colors, palettes, news, and real-world design examples. Members get points for being active participants in the community.

Faveup - A gallery of logos, business cards, flash and CSS websites where you can vote for your favorites. One of Faveup’s main purposes is to provide inspiration to designers and to showcase and provide links to great designs.

CSSclip - Sort websites by color or look at the Best of 2009 websites. The site also includes news and other resources for designers.

InspirationKing - Another gallery that started as a personal resource before going public. Offers an RSS feed and features a number of well-known websites in its design gallery.

Ads of the World - Check out print, TV, radio, online, outdoor and other types of advertisements from all over the world to get inspiration for both online and offline design projects.

Design Flood - Vote on a scale of 1-9 on the sites featured in this gallery or just browse for new ideas. All the sites featured are handpicked for being unique and well-designed.

Darkeye - Web design gallery where you can search by color or keyword. You can also browse recent submissions, most viewed, and highest rated sites, and you can vote and leave comments on featured designs.

TextureKing - More than 300 textures divided up by category—grunge, plaster, rust, wood, glass, and more. You can then download the textures as free stock photos.

The Cool Hunter - A gallery of all things awesome, including architecture, design, stores, and more based in Australia. The site serves as a celebration of modern creativity in all its forms and is a global hub for everything cool, innovative, original, and thoughtful. - A judged site that features six of the best and most unique CSS designs on the web every month. Viewers can then vote and the highest-ranked site each month wins $25.

CSS Import - A CSS gallery with more than 2,000 sites featured. They offer RSS feeds for the full gallery and for just the notable entries. The biggest drawback to the site is that the archives are only organized by date.

csstux - A huge collection of websites with browsable archives. There is no search feature on the site, so while designs are tagged with categories, there’s no effective way to find designs tagged a certain way. - View graphic design, photography, web design, digital art, and industrial art galleries. Each category has subcategories to further refine your search.

CSSArtillery - Great standards-compliant CSS sites from all over the web. The site is browsable by category and subcategory and also offers RSS and Twitter feeds.

One Pixel Army - A collection of sites perfect for finding inspiration or direction in your own designs. All the sites featured are handpicked by the site owner as excellent sources of inspiration.

Splench - A gallery in a blog format that makes browsing easy. You can view sites by color or search by keyword. An RSS feed is also available.

Website Design Awards - Features some of the best designs on the web with a focus on interactivity, usability, creativity, and originality.

CSS Design Yorkshire - A gallery of more than 2,500 CSS website designs that also has monthly featured websites. All of the designs featured are by designers in the Yorkshire region and all sites are built with good semantic xhtml.

CSSMoon - View web design galleries by category—education, business, portfolios, medical, and more. The coolest part about this site is the header, which allows you to browse sites in a similar way to browsing album covers on the iPhone.

css {imagine} - A huge gallery with a blog that features outstanding designs and other useful posts. They normally showcase ten designs each month, though some months they share additional sites if there are tons of excellent submissions.

Pattern Tap - One of my favorite resources for web design inspiration. View the way other sites handle specific elements such as 404 Pages, Backgrounds, Calendars, Contact Forms, and more.

PageCrush - A place where designers from all over the world can post their best work and where others can go to find inspiration.

The Photography Showcase - View and rate photos of a variety of subjects. The tag cloud makes finding exactly what you’re looking for easy and the site offers a widget you can add to your own site.

Stylegala - Though currently going in a new direction, this site has an amazing gallery of CSS website designs, as well as a forum, resources, and feature articles. - A web design gallery site that also includes podcasts, resources, interviews, news, and more. They also offer an RSS feed and you can follow them on Twitter for regular updates. The sites featured are tagged and can be rated on a scale of 1-10.

CSS Scoop - View and rate CSS designs and check out the blog for web design articles covering a variety of topics. RSS feeds are provided for both the gallery and the blog (”The Scoop”).

Beautifully - A regularly-updated gallery of beautiful websites. They also offer weekly web design news roundups and RSS feeds for the gallery, news, and resources.

DiVine CSS - A gallery that features blog designs, CSS, Flash, e-commerce sites and more. Sites are selected by the team of graphic designers, web designers, programmers and developers behind DiVine CSS.

Light on Dark - A gallery of nothing but websites with dark backgrounds and light-colored text. This can be one of the hardest design styles to pull off, so studying successful sites that employ this style is a good place to start. - A CSS and general web design gallery with browsable categories. Sites featured are excellent examples of innovative and creative uses and are web standards compliant.

CSS Dance - A web design gallery showcasing appealing site design with a rating system. They offer an RSS feed of new additions and you can follow them on Twitter.

CSS Mix - Gallery sortable by color or category and with a rating system and RSS feed. Members can also view sites that are still pending for addition.

CSS Nature - A gallery featuring only green, eco, and organic websites. They also offer open source templates and the ability to comment and rate designs.

Web Designer Wall - The Trends category on Web Designer Wall has amazing showcases of web design elements and complete sites.

Web Design Ledger - The inspiration category on this blog has tons of places to go for inspiration and showcases beautiful examples of all kinds of design.

Computerlove - A social platform and blog for finding inspiration and sharing your work. They offer design news as well and ways to promote yourself as a designer.

Design is Kinky - A blog featuring new designs and artwork from all over the world. They’ve been around for more than 10 years, making them one of the older design blogs/sites on the net.

DFCKR - Tracks design news and resources and highlights up and coming illustrators and designers. Their archives are browsable by recent entries, date, and category.

You the Designer - Posts featuring examples of excellent design across the web and beyond put together by a freelance graphic designer.

Think Vitamin - A blog for web designers and developers that includes some great design galleries and articles. The site is put together by Carsonified, the same company that produces the Future of Web Design and Future of Web Apps conferences.

Vandelay Design - Features multiple posts showcasing great designs for inspiration. The blog itself is produced by a web design company in an effort to make their site more useful than just the standard portfolio site.

Design Shard - Blog featuring inspiration for print and web design, with a pretty inspiring design itself. It also features other resources for designers, including free photoshop textures and brushes.

I Love Typography - Great inspiration for anyone trying to find just the right font, this site showcases fonts and typography in the world around us, from road signs and shampoo bottles to billboards and posters.

Noupe - Posts offering collections of design elements for inspiration along with tutorials, icons, showcases, and more. Noupe’s goal is to help designers create more engaging websites and functional interfaces.

Six Revisions - Posts covering all kinds of design topics and including a variety of sources of inspiration and useful tools. Includes practical information for modern web designers.

Design Reviver - Offers a variety of articles, including showcases of great design and design elements. They also include tutorials, free downloads, and articles covering anything related to web design.

fadtastic - A multi-author blog covering trends in web design with some great showcase posts. Posts cover trends in web graphics, typography, and more.

Design Melt Down - Covers all sorts of design elements and trends, broken down into chapters. Includes color usage, principles of design, site types and more, all illustrated with real-world examples.

Fuel Your Creativity - A brilliant design blog with some amazing articles in their inspiration section. They tout themselves as the place to go when you’re having one of those “I’m-going-to-implode-if-I-don’t-get-an-idea-soon” moments.

Typographica - A blog featuring typography news, resources and more. They feature mostly print materials that display excellent use of typography, though inspiration could be drawn from here for both print and web applications. Their handpicked font collections showcase the best fonts each year (four years are currently available, 2004-2007).

Phirebrush - Online magazine and art group offering monthly issues that feature user submissions of photography, artwork, writing, and more.

Multilink Magazine - A free PDF magazine that has issues released on an irregular schedule as they’re ready with variable content.

GizMag - A PDF magazine that features photography, illustration, design, sculpture and more, as well as interviews with artists.

Destructed - A PDF magazine featuring art and design with themed issues that can be downloaded for free. Each quarterly issue features a unique art- and design-related topic.

delve - A free, experimental design magazine with archives available online that features photography, design, illustration and other visual arts.

ROOTmagazine - Features graphic design, illustration, photography, video, audio and other content from everybody willing to exhibit.

RevolutionArt Magazine - Magazine focusing on art as well as culture with over 70,000 subscribers. They cover the arts, modeling, music and more and consider themselves a massive worldwide propaganda machine for making people think about global messages.

Artz Mania - A downloadable design magazine featuring international artists and designers that started in January of ‘07. They showcase designs by artists and designers from all over the world distributed on a platform that’s accessible to people from all walks of life.

encore - A flip-book format online art & design magazine with a very slick interface. They focus on art, design, and film and track down innovative products, events, trends, and artists from around the globe each month.

Castle Illustrative Magazine - A free PDF magazine full of work by “creative nerds.” They put out regular issues focused on free illustration and design. Back issues are available on the website.

Anti - A digital magazine showcasing outstanding art and design content. Eight issues are currently available for free download.

Blanket Magazine - A free PDF magazine covering all areas of art, design, and photography. Each issue also features humorous stories and informative interviews.

Proteus Mag - Features photography, painting, sculpture, graphic designs, fashion designs, and more in a free PDF magazine.

bitFUUL magazine - A PDF magazine that covers all aspects of art and design including music, photography, writing, and art.

WAG - Features “works-in-progress” in art, expression, literature, and more. They aim to be available in paper for some editions, though for the most part they are a screen magazine.

ruby mag - An art magazine that aims to promote different artists to the world. More than thirty back issues are available on the website.

Phase Collective - A downloadable digital magazine that’s currently undergoing a changeover to a blog format. Back issues are still available for download.

TXTnein - A free art magazine available in PDF, Flash or executable files for both PC and Mac. Submissions are open to graphic designers, photographers and artists from all over the world.

File - Online photography magazine with a focus on unexpected treatment of subjects. Photographs that treat their subjects with alternate takes, odd angles, and unconventional observations.

Computer Arts - An online magazine that includes a gallery, forums, creative directory, news and more. The creator of the site, Future, publishes more than 100 consumer magazines worldwide.

JPG Magazine - An online magazine devoted to photography with themed issues. Visitors to the site can vote on photos for upcoming issues. They have open themes where photographers can submit work and which may or may not be featured in future issues.

CMYK design - A collection of photos of print designs. This is definitely the pool to look at if you’re looking for inspiration for package or marketing materials design.

Web Design - A pool of website screenshots with more than 7,000 items uploaded. There are examples of just about every kind of web design present, some with multiple screenshots available.

Experimental Graphic Design - A collection of more than 17,000 graphic design images that don’t necessarily fit traditional design conventions.

Poster Design - View more than 10,000 poster designs from all over the world. Great for inspiration whether you’re designing an actual poster or any other print or online project.

Design the Logo - A graphic design pool focused specifically on logo design. Features well-known logos as well as ones for lesser known brands and companies.

Graphic Design Magazines - A selection of photos from magazines focused on graphic design. Shows layouts and specific elements from magazines from all over the world.

Photo-Graphic Design - A pool of graphic designs revolving around the use of photos. Some items from the pool are very straight-forward examples of photo-based design while others are truly original and creative designs.

Catchy Colors - A pool of photos focused on eye-catching color with more than 1.3 million items. Pulling colors from photos is a great way to design a unique color palette for any design project.

flickr in full color - Another photo pool focused on brilliant use of color in photography. While there are only around 99,000 photos in this pool (as opposed to the 1.3 million in the previous pool), the quality of the images is outstanding.

Whew! Now that's a list!