Monday, November 30, 2009

Automation Requires Standards

It is impossible to automate any task without standards. In the printing industry, many smaller printers have been trapped in thinking they had to be a job shop and take any job that came in the door, no matter what. This type of thinking has allowed web-based printers such as Vistaprint and Printingforless to carve out a good business because their business model is built around standardization for automation.

The printing industry has a number of standards already in place, but it is up to individual companies to use the standards and require their customers to follow them. Two of the most important standards are GRACoL 7 and G7. These are standards that many printers are implementing to make sure that the printing meets the requirements of customer and the printing quality is consistent.

One good overview of the subject can be found at:

More specific information can be found at:
G7 Process:

In addition to those standards, you also need to be aware of the PDF and JDF standards. The standards set by the Ghent Workflow Group ( are what are used by GRACoL and G7.

Interestingly, the GRACoL standards at basically the same standards relating to customer files and PDF files that CPrint® International ( has been promoting for years. The “big” printers and those who work with high end color for agencies have been promoting these standards to customers for a number of years.

Printers who institute standards and then require their customers to follow them will be able to automate in the coming years and see their sales per employee rise dramatically.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Find Customers and Build a Brand with Search Engines

Everyone is talking about having a "brand" for their company. A brand is the collective consumer perception of a company, product or service that is uniquely your own. This brand is shaped through the brand identity and its marketing execution as well as by personal or corporate experiences with the brand, by word of mouth and by the media.

The general public can get an impression of your company from a number of places. One area that many printers overlook is the Map areas of many search engines when they are branding their companies.

Successful quick printers use the various mapping programs provided by the different Internet search engines to find more customers. For example, you can go to and enter your address. Then use the Search Nearby to seek out businesses that need printing. Type in "Associations" and see how many are close to you. How about marketing companies? Training companies? Any type of business that might buy printing? You’ll get a list of businesses and can easily get contact information. There isn’t any excuse for a printer so say, “I don’t know who to call on.”

Your customers are also using the same search engine maps to find out information about you. You will also want to make sure you visit,, and others to post information about your business. For instance, Google gives businesses a free listing on Google Maps to make it easy for customers to find you. Any business can use the Local Business Center to create a free listing. When potential customers search Maps for local information, they'll find your business: your address, hours of operation, even photos of your storefront or products. It's easy, free, and you don't need a website of your own. Go to to sign up. Bing, Yahoo and other search engines offer a similar service.

But don’t forget to check the reviews for your business online to help protect your brand. Google, Yahoo and Bing allow visitors to post comments and reviews about local businesses online. You might be surprised what customers are saying about you online. Sadly it is usually a customer who had a problem who takes the time to post a poor review. You might want to suggest to your better customers that they can post a review for you at the different search sites. It might offset any bad reviews.

The Internet can give customers a perception of your company. You want to make sure the face you are showing to the world is the face you want them to see and you don't have people talking behind your back.