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The Women in Print Awards: Mary Smith

ImageSmith's CEO discusses good corporate citizenship, the digital revolution, and more.




Mary Smith
CEO, Operations Manager

ImageSmith Communications, Arden, North Carolina

Accomplishments: Was honored in 2006 as the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Leader of the Year, and her company has received numerous Printing Industry of the Carolinas awards for achievement in print

Philanthropy: Has volunteered and donated to many community groups such as the March of Dimes, United Way, and the Western North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance

How have you adapted your business over the years, and why has that ability to change and innovate within the industry been important to your success?

We started our business more than 35 years ago, before the digital revolution completely changed the landscape for print. As we have grown, we moved from the old days of stripping negatives and paste-up to a completely digital workflow and web-to-print technology. Diversification has been critically important in that process. The days of long-run offset print jobs morphed into short-run print on demand. In turn, not only did our production have to shift from offset to digital, but it also had to expand to include wide-format signage, embroidery, direct mail, promotional products, and so on. We know it’s important to keep our eyes open for the next big marketing innovation on the horizon.


Embracing change this way is vital to success, and we encourage our staff to consistently look for new and innovative approaches to marketing. Just as technology completely transformed the print industry over the past decades, it’s now transforming all communications. Printers are now digital marketing specialists who can provide clients with a full gamut of options to promote their brand. We work hard to introduce new technology and marketing solutions to our clients – and help them, in their decision-making process, get over that instinctive fear of uncertainty and change.

You’ve donated to many local charities looking for help with their marketing materials. Why do you think it’s important to have an impact on the community as a business owner?

Any good corporate citizen takes an interest in the overall health and well-being of the people and community in which they thrive. But beyond this, a core principle of our company has been, from the start, to work with a spirit of generosity. That generosity can take the form of donating time, talent, and treasure for worthy community charities and nonprofits. It can also mean going the extra mile to provide quality services to our clients above and beyond what is expected. We want to work in that spirit of generosity to develop partnerships with our clients that will last.

As new technology rolls out in the marketing world, getting the right information to make your investment decisions is critical for business owners. Through our customer service, blog, social media outreach, and sales departments, we hope to provide useful information to designers, fellow printers, business owners, and print buyers – whether or not we actually do work for them in the future. Being generous in the community with your expertise builds goodwill, and, perhaps more importantly, establishes your authority and skillfulness in your field. To be a source that people trust and turn to for information is a worthy accomplishment. Because we specialize in marketing and communication skills, we want our customers to turn to us as a marketing consultant who has their best interests in mind.

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