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Make your first impression count

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(ARA) - You get one chance to make a first impression. Make yours stand out and last longer with professional business cards, proposals and other printed materials that help define your business.

Presentation counts - especially when you're one of the nation's 25 million small businesses as estimated by the U.S. Small Business Association. Owners must differentiate themselves to stand out.

Electronic communication may drive the bustle in today's high-powered business world. But business cards are critical to building new relationships with a friendly face.

Other collateral, like marketing brochures, catalogs and direct mail, also remains essential for attracting new customers. In fact, a July 2011 U.S. Postal Service survey found those who receive a catalog buy 28 percent more items than those who do not receive one.

"Printed pieces provide staying power," says Bill Martin, who oversees print services for The UPS Store network. "Whether business cards, signage or direct mail, printed material is vital to creating a long-lasting impression."

Make your small business stand out from the rest with these easy tips:

* Seize the power of print: Print doesn't have to be costly - just well designed. Start by giving your audience clear, concise information that explains why your business is different from competitors. Straightforward language and color can set your collateral - and your business - apart from others.

* Know your audience: When it comes to marketing, quality trumps quantity. Pinpoint your audience. By knowing its size, needs and challenges, you can define your message, provide a customized solution and determine how much collateral you need.

* Take advantage of Every Door Direct Mail Service-Retail: Design, print and send large mail pieces to each customer in your area with the U.S. Postal Service and The UPS Store network. Your local The UPS Store center is now a convenient solution for your direct mail needs. Target an advertising market by geography, and they will handle the logistics of printing and delivering direct-marketing mailings through the U.S. Postal Service to every address in that neighborhood.

* Network with other small businesses: There's nothing more trustworthy than a word-of-mouth recommendation. Identify potentially relevant partners in your area and work with them to cross promote each others' businesses. Don't forget business cards when making introductions.

* Choose the right printer: When looking for a printer, identify one with the agility to custom print on demand. Today's business communications are constantly evolving and the old bulk printing approach has gone by the wayside. Small business owners need flexible printers that can create quality collateral as your business and audience changes.

"When it comes to building a first impression, small businesses need customized solutions that can help deliver big results," says Martin. "As small business franchise owners themselves, we understand the importance of taking the time to create a solution that's right for small business customers."

Whether it's a weekly menu or real estate flyer, professionally produced print materials go a long way in creating lasting impressions that resonate with new and existing customers. Now, small businesses can maximize their message with "3 FOR ALL," a The UPS Store campaign that gives customers 30 percent off the purchase of three eligible products between Sept. 1 and Oct.10. For more information, including a list of eligible products, visit www.facebook.com/theupsstore.

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