Archive for January, 2013

There are heroes among us

My Christmas Gift To You

The story you are about to read is really a gift I have been given to share with you. I know it’s a bit long but, I hope you take the time to read it. My hope is that you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing for you… Norm Mickle

I believe that Christmas is a magical time of the year. I thought it was time to share with you a gift I received a few years ago. The gift I want to share with you is a concept I call “You Get By Giving”. This concept is mystical, magical, and almost biblical


This concept does not come to you with out rules.

Rule # 1. You must always give first.

Rule # 2. You must expect nothing in return.

The Gift.  It will come back to you 10 fold.

Do you believe in Santa Claus? My wife Janet has owned a small restaurant called “MEALTIME EXPRESS” for almost 22 years. Secretly we have been spearheading a program called “Secret Santa” for the past 8 years. In the beginning we would pick a family or two that we heard about through our church, and we have the pastor visit that family. He would get a wish list from the kids, and Jan and I would go out and buy the gifts. The families never knew who actually made this happen. Well, things have snowballed since then.

This year we hosted the 7th Annual Secret Santa Benefit Dinner that helps raise the funds to expand the program. Last year this group of volunteers raised enough money to buy six gifts (right off of their Christmas Wish list) for 87 children from 33 local families. Each family recieved a Gift Certificate from their local grocery store so they could prepare a Christmas meal fit for a king.

Jan’s sister Maxine co-ordinates the whole program. She is instrumental in setting up what to buy, keeps the books all in order and even sets up Santa’s delivery schedule. None of this could be done without the help of Jan’s family, her brother Joe and his wife Helga, her sister Charlene and her husband Ken along with Liz Mickle, Pauline Shaw, Janet Clifford, Tim McCalister, a pastors wife from Kingsville and all the volunteers who come out and help.

Jan actually closes the restaurant and hosts the dinner. We donate all the food for the benefit. Every penny of the $20 ticket price goes the Secret Santa Program. Even the waitresses come back in and donate their time. There is a 50/50 draw at each of the 4 sittings. The restaurant only holds 50 people, so we hold 4 sittings and we sell over 300 tickets including take out. There always seem to be lots of raffle prizes to buy tickets for. By the way, we are not sure how we get these raffle prizes. We have never gone to local businesses and asked for them; the owners just show up and drop stuff off. Hmmmm, maybe they have heard of “YOU GET BY GIVING”.

This year the Secret Santa Program will look after even more families, thanks to all of the help that these folks gave them. We know that everyone that attended the dinner or bought take out tickets, donated a prize, brought in a toy or gave money have all dug deep to help out. We also know how blessed we are to be given the opportunity to do this. We could not do this with out them and May God Bless Them All.

You Get By Giving

My brother Jim (Santa) passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack 5 years ago. My sister-in-law Liz (Mrs. Claus) vowed never to wear the outfit again. By the way, she handmade these outfits herself. They are magnificent. Pastor Steve, who buried my brother and who was instrumental in helping find the families, agreed to wear the Santa outfit as long as Liz would be his partner. Reluctantly she did. How can you tell your pastor NO? She experienced the gleaming little faces she and Santa visited that year and realized the importance of this program.

You see, you get by giving. Losing your soul mate is devastating and you think you will never love again. Liz found the love she thought she lost in the faces of the kids she visits every year. The legend that my brother started lives on through her and her commitment to this program. You Get by Giving – Sometimes it comes back to you ten fold right away. You must always give first and expect nothing in return, and sometimes it comes back to you through a life changing, life saving, event.

Pastor Steve was transferred the next year and now there is no Santa. So, off I go in search of the next person who will fill my brother’s shoes. The perfect guy was my brother-in-law, John. Now, John is a very friendly guy. He is a truck driver who also looks like what you think of when you think of a 55-year-old biker. He fits the Santa suit perfectly, shaves his head and has an Indian Feather Tattoo on his arm with his grandkids’ names on it. There is no way he is going to do this for me. Of course, I am a pretty good salesman.

With the help of the kids’ experiences and my wife and his wife nagging him, we shamed John into the suit. Now, there is something very magical about the Christmas season. John’s (Santa’s) first experience was during the first snowfall of the year. Snow was softly falling, just enough to see it in the street lights, just enough to make it a very special, magical Christmas Eve. Santa, Mrs. Claus and 3 elves dressed in green ponchos, red and white stockings, green hats with the perfect elf ears attached to them and pointed curly toed shoes (all hand made by Mrs. Claus and sister Pauline, one of the elves), knocked on their first door to make a delivery. A short, curly haired 6-year-old girl answered the door with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. She screamed to her father announcing who was at the door. My shy and timid (tough guy) Santa half-heartedly gave a “HO HO HO” and went into the house.

Once he and his entourage got in with all their gifts, he started to feel a little more comfortable. He already knew the situation he was going into. Dad was very grateful for our presents, but felt there were a lot more deserving families than his. He lost his job awhile back, his wife left him and he had custody of the two children. He had told his kids that his unemployment cheque was due to come in next week and they would have Christmas then. There were tears coming down from the corners of his eyes when he saw all we had done for him and his girls. He asked Santa and his helpers to stay for a moment so he could take a picture. With the 2 girls on Santa’s lap and his gang snuggled around, Dad snapped the picture. The batteries were dead. Dad’s head fell down and he wiped off the tears of disappointment. He started to apologize to the group when his little 6-year-old girl ran from the picture frame into the kitchen. Santa could hear her rustling through a drawer, and she ran back to her dad with a photo in her hand, tugged on his shirtsleeve and said, “Dad don’t cry, it’s OK I have a picture with Santa Claus in the mall from last year.”

Out of the mouths of babes, Santa got up, wished a Merry Christmas to the three occupants of that blessed home and took his entourage back to the “sleigh” (actually a pick up truck I was driving). I asked Santa how it went and he could not speak as he pushed back his own tears to keep from sobbing out loud. That did it, now I can’t get him out of that Santa suit.

Sometimes you give reluctantly, hoping you get nothing in return. In John’s case, the rewards are not 10 fold; they are priceless.

This program is a win, win, win for everyone involved. The folks that get involved finding the families from a list of kids who they help every day – a WIN. The churches that help find the families – it’s a great out reach program – a WIN. All the volunteers who get that warm fuzzy feeling from the accomplishment made from all of their hard work – a WIN. The last and most important winners are the kids and their families. Who knows how that all turns out, but I can tell you this: over the years, our pastors have come to us with unanimous donations. All they would tell us is the money came from a family who was visited at one time by Santa and his gang.

You Get By Giving – is a concept that will help you to start Building treasures in heaven. Reach out and touch some one’s life and you too will receive the same gift that was given to me.

Merry Christmas Everyone,

May God Bless You and Yours,

Norm Mickle

April 26, 2013 – Tips, Tricks & Tracks Workshop

For more information, visit or click this image

The next Tips, Tricks & Tracks is scheduled for April 26, 2013 at The Caboto Club in Windsor. Get your early bird tickets now – seating is limited so reserve your spot today!

Visit for more information about the workshop.

To purchase tickets, use the Eventbrite form below to process your transaction securely:


Think INK!!

Thinking About Ink?

When planning a job, it’s a lot easier to think about the design and paper than the ink. But understanding the ins and outs of ink is critical to successful design, too.

Inks are formulated differently for different purposes and equipment. When manufacturers make ink, they deal with four basic elements: pigments (the coloring), transfer agents (the solvents and resins that cause the ink to spread), varnishes (the additives that control glossiness), and drying additives. Different combinations of these elements determine the suitability of the ink for a particular project.

Here are four types of ink beyond the traditional four-color process inks that you might not be familiar with:

1. “Scuff-resistant” inks. These inks were specially formulated for the packaging industry so items printed with these inks could withstand more abuse during transit.

2. Metallic inks. These inks get their shine from real metals added to the ink base. Metallic inks look great, but they are laid down more thickly than standard four-color process inks, so they take longer to dry. The thick ink coverage also makes metallics more prone to scratching or scuffs.

3. Fluorescent inks. These inks offer brilliant fluorescent effects. To achieve this look, they are printed on white paper. Like metallic inks, fluorescent inks are more opaque than four-color process inks, which can cause trapping issues. They also tend to fade in brilliance over time.

4. Soy inks. Traditional offset inks emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when run through the dryers on the press. Soy inks are not made from petroleum, so they have lower VOC emissions. They do have limitations, so be sure to talk to us about the pros and cons of using them.

Even though the basic principles of lithography are simple, inks involve a lot of complex chemistry. If you have a project with special requirements, please ask about your ink options before you go to print.


This article is copyright protected and may not be used in any form without express written permission.

Creating Corporate Brochures That Rock


Critics say corporate brochures are glossy, brag-and-boast budget suckers that virtually no one reads. How can evolve your corporate brochure beyond the traditional? Turn it into a conversation starter that people want to read?


1. Start with a strategy.


Every brochure should have a purpose. Who is your target audience? What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to introduce your company to a prospect? Establish credibility? Know what you want to accomplish and focus on it.


2. Be interesting.


Engage, engage, engage. If you don’t engage the reader right off the bat, your investment is going straight into the trash bin. On the cover, think beyond a picture of your product line and corporate logo. Grab attention with a bold graphic, a splash of unexpected color, or a customized font. Choose a unique size or shape of paper, a substantial paper stock, and a special finish.


3. Make the text interesting.


Does your brochure read like a technical manual? Make it read like bestseller instead. Lead with your best information. Let your story unfold in a natural, conversational way. You can’t tell your readers everything about your company all at once. Selectively use factual information to make your piece both interesting and believable.


4. Include a call to action.


While selling is not the primary purpose of a corporate brochure, why miss the opportunity? Give the reader an exclusive invitation, a free special report, or a perforated card to request more information. Prominently display your address, phone number, general e-mail address and Web site on the back cover to make contacting you easy. Continue the conversation by directing the reader to social media, like Twitter, Facebook or your corporate blog.


Companies tend to limit distribution of corporate brochures because of the cost involved, but a well-designed piece can be worth a great deal more than its cost. Create a great, professionally printed brochure and get it into the hands of your employees, vendors, distributors, customers and prospects and see where the power of effective communication takes you.


Data Mining Demystified

In order to produce a successful 1:1 printing campaign, all you need is a great database, right? Not quite. Producing a successful 1:1 print campaign starts with having a great database, but once you have the data, you have to figure out what to do with it. Often, that means data mining.

Data mining. The very phrase strikes fear into the hearts of marketers, but in reality, it is simply the process of finding patterns in large data sets. That doesn’t have to be a daunting proposition. In fact, you can do simple data mining in Excel.

There are three steps to data mining:

  • Know what data is available.
  • Ask questions about that data.
  • Look for useful relationships.

This is something you can do from your own desktop. The first step is simply to understand what’s in your database. The next step is to start asking questions of that data.

If you are a retailer, for example, you might ask, “Which customers purchased hardwood flooring last month?” Then you might ask, “What else did these same customers purchase?” You might find that these same customers also purchased area rugs and floor conditioning products. Now you can ask even more questions. When do they typically make purchases? Is there a pattern by time of month?

Over time, you will start seeing relationships that will be highly useful in your 1:1 marketing. That’s data mining! And it’s well within the grasp of any sized marketer. So get curious!

Start your day with a big helping of yours truly!!

Have you ever been to a networking event, gathered some business cards of contacts you made and started to enter the contact names and data into your smartphone? Only to struggle hitting the wrong key (those smartphone keys are pretty small, huh?)

Well think of all the people you handed your card out to. They too might want to ACCURATELY add your contact info into their phones. And you WANT that information of yours to be accurately entered so when they are ready to place an order, they can do so quickly, efficiently and with no hassles.

(Drum roll please….)

Introducing our FluidCard video. We introduced FluidCards a year or so back and have past blog postings about them. But this video tells it better and shows all the cool features of what is essentially a Custom Micro Website, showcasing just YOU!

Now customers can add your contact information into their phones without the tedious, inaccurate manual entry that was previously necessary.

A business card without a FluidCard QR code is like Laurel without Hardy, pie without ice cream, the Stones without Mick – you get the jist.

Please check the video out here then phone us at the shop for more info:

(One more – like James Bond without a Vodka martini)


Staying Top of Mind (TOMA)

Quick! Name a soft drink. Chances are you thought of Coke or Pepsi. These beverage giants spend millions in advertising to stay top of mind (TOMA). How about you? If someone asked your customers to name a company in your product category, would your company come to mind?


Here are five ways to stay “TOMA” with your customers:


1. Find your unique selling proposition. What makes your company special? Price, product availability, location, quality, or speed? Articulate it clearly, consistently, and succinctly in all of your marketing communications. Keep saying it!


2. Be consistent in design. Everything from your Web site to your customer literature to your stationery should have a similar look and feel. Use templates if necessary.


3. Proactively send messages into the market. A one-time advertising blitz can get your message out quickly, but you build credibility and stay top of mind with regular, timely marketing communications.


4. Use multiple touch points. Direct mail is highly effective in reinforcing a personal bond between your company and your customer. Multiple media reinforce that message by touching prospects at different times and in different ways. Send a customized letter giving your best prospects the inside track on a new product. Follow up with email. Send a postcard or brochure when the product is available. Send a note of thanks when the client makes a purchase.


5. Timing is everything. Strategically plan repeated communications so customers perceive you as a provider of useful information rather than an intrusive pest. This requires both organization and dedication.


Never before have consumers had so many choices. Staying top of mind will lift you out of a noisy marketplace, increasing customer retention and response rates.


This article is copyright protected and may not be used in any form without express written permission.

It’s Here! The BIC 2-in-1 Stylus Pen!

BIC 2-in-1 Stylus Pen - Contact us today for detailsStylus and writing instrument in one. WOW clients and prospects with this practical and tech-savy promotional product.


  • Stylus and ballpoint pen combination
  • Rubber pad stylus with capacitive screens technology
  • Super-smooth BIC® Easy Glide System® Ink
  • Side retracting mechanism
  • Low minimum quantity

Contact us today for more information



Also shown in photo is the BIC Slim Metal featuring:

  • Body-action retractable ballpoint
  • Exclusive curved clip design
  • Shiny nickel and satin-chrome attributes
  • Black velour sleeve included


Contact us today for more information


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