Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Printers Should Let Light Shine Socially

Keeping up with social media is tough. Between onsite visits to help printing companies prosper and use the new technology, researching how to use all the new tools, and writing about them, I try to keep up with my blogs, twitter posts, LinkedIn discussions, and Facebook visits. If you are sticking your toe into the social media pool, then you know what I mean when I say that “it is hard.”

My problem is time, but for most printers I talk to, their problem is content. Printers continually tell me they don’t know what to post on the various social media vehicles. A number of printers think that just posting on social media will make them look “needy” and like they are “begging” for work. They cannot separate sales messages from valuable information.

I tell them to keep it simple. What would you want to say to your customers if you were face to face? What information would you want to put in a customer’s hand that would make print buying easier for them? What would you want to train a customer to do correctly to make production easier?

I think any printer who can come up with answers to those questions will have hundreds of topics. Got a link that tells the difference between CMYK and RGB? Have a link that tells a person how to get the best photo from their digital camera? Have a source for online training for Publisher or InDesign that you would like to share? Any of these topics would be of interest to customer s and make you look like the printing expert you are if you would only share them through social media.

But too many printers hide their light under a basket. They don’t realize that sharing information will create a bond with customers that will lead to more sales. They think that offering unsolicited advice is too much like asking for a sale. They rather customers come to them and ask questions.

Customers aren’t going to buy from you unless you ask for the order. Customers won’t order unless they feel comfortable that they are dealing with a professional. You can become the local expert by using social media tools and your website properly.

If you can’t come up with content, it is because you are not out talking to customers. Once you find out what customers need by making a sales calls, you will have enough content to keep your blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts active for months.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Printers Need To Raise Prices

It is amazing the pricing strategies that some printing companies use to gain new business. One strategy that has been around for ages is to offer discounts for first time buyers to show prospects the quality and service they can receive if they were to become a regular customer. The discount might get the job the first time, but it doesn’t guarantee you will get the next job at the higher price. You just trained your customer that you are willing to give lower prices.

I suggest another tactic you can use with a new customer, especially if creative design is involved, is to raise your regular price 10 to 15 percent. This allows you to test your pricing structure and make sure you aren’t leaving money on the table. Printers create custom work. In the case of most custom manufacturing, the price goes up when the customer selects a manufacturer that provides better service and quality.

The primary reason that most printers are attracted to discounts and low price selling is that it replaces the best way to sell printing. The best way to sell is to get in front of the customer and ask for an order. The reason aso many printers are failing is that they hope that customers will call, ask for a price, and then buy because it is the lowest price they have found. There is too much competition to just sit back and wait for customers to call and then hope a low price will attract them to buy.
The only printers being really successful with that strategy are the low cost producers who maintain their margins by using production efficiencies and keeping sales costs low by selling over the Internet. The typical printer is still a job shop that custom produces every order to the customer’s specifications. Producing custom work has a higher cost and has to be sold at a higher price.

If printers are contacting customers, making sales calls, finding out what customers need, and asking for the order, they won’t have to use discounting and low prices to build sales. Printing customers, especially those who need creative services, are willing to pay to get the high quality and service that only a profitable printer can provide.

So when the next new customer asks for a price, take your regular price and raise it. You may find that the only one really concerned about low prices is you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stop Chasing the Money

As printers expand their services and start competing with other content creators such as ad agencies and PR firms for managed marketing services, they will have to start pricing like their competitors do. The biggest change isn't going to be getting the higher prices, but getting paid up front for the work.

Today in printing, printers are always chasing the money. We work on getting the proof back so we can get the printing done so we can deliver the job so we can wait 45 days for our money. No other industry creates custom work and then charges for it.

The printer who gets involved in managed marketing will get their money faster. Ad agencies, web designers, copywriters, etc., get at least 50 percent of their money up front. Web companies don't even turn on a web site before they are paid in full for their work. Printers who start selling these types of services will be able to do the same thing and get their money up front.

Why get paid before the work is completed? Many of the services will be marketing related. If the idea doesn't work, the blame shouldn't fall on the printer and the penalty be not to be paid. Sometimes the best marketing program can fail, not because of the tools or materials used, but the follow through by the end user. Leads can be generated, but if the customer doesn't follow up on the leads, it isn't going to be successful. Printers don't want to have their money held back because the customer didn't take action.

As successful printers get away from commodity work and move into the higher value managed marketing services, they need to do it right and use the same billing procedures as their competitors. Just think how much more responsive a customer will be if you already have their money and they want their services.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Direction for Quick Printing

The future of printing is exciting! I work for CPrint International and we are ending a year where our affiliates have started evolving into what print shops must become if they are to survive. From mobile marketing to web development to social media management, CPrinters are adding services that help their customers get new leads and businesses.

Print is a strong and proven communication tool, but in today's clutter you have to have more. CPrint is showing people how to use the new technology and to integrate it with printing. The exciting thing is that having new strategies for the customers to use puts CPrinters in a completely different catagory than the printer down the street.

Printers are not usually strong sales people, but the new services are making it easy for CPrinters to get in front of hard-to-reach customers and sell. Instead of talking about how low prices and fast delivery times, CPrinters are starting conversations with customers are how to help grow their business with the new services.

CPrinters are getting excited about printing again. We have products and services that customers want and will pay for. Twenty years ago NAQP had an ad campaign for printers that said "We're more than printing." Today CPrinters are just that.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

QR Codes Getting Bigger

If you are looking for something to give you a little credibility with the customer about how big QR codes and mobile marketing is becoming then you will want to check out Google and YouTube.
Google began using QR codes to promote its Local Business service. Google mailed out window stickers with two-dimensional QR codes to the most-searched for or clicked-on businesses in its local business directory. These stickers were sent to more than 100,000 local businesses around the country.
Anyone passing by is able to scan the code and get the Google Mobile local directory page for the Favorite Places. The directory pages generally include a map, a phone number, directions, the address, reviews, and a link to the business’ Web site. Local businesses can also set up coupon offers through their Google directory page, which would turn the QR code into a mobile coupon. Google hopes that consumers who are standing at a store window might be enticed to come in and take advantage of a special offer.

QR codes are going mainstream. A QR code was one of the clues on an episode of CSI New York. The actual scene where the QR code is found and scanned is available on YouTube.com. Just search for "CSI New York QR code." The actor explains what a QR code and demonstrates how to use it with a smartphone. You'll see a little TV magic when the website immediately displays on the smartphone screen, but it does get the point across.

You may not get a lot of customers to bite at using QR codes on their printed material, but it sure does give you a good reason to get out and make a sales call.

Friday, October 29, 2010

History of PDF

For almost two decades I have been promoting the use of PDFs when dealing with customer files. Today most customers know what a PDF file is and successful printers use a PDF workflow to save time and money.

The PDF file format not only changed the print world but it has become one of the reasons that printed material can now be easily transferred over the Internet. PDF has been around since 1991 but wasn’t embraced by the prepress world until 1996. If you want to trace the history of PDF and how it has evolved over the past 20 years, visit Prepressure.com and read the history of PDFs. It is also a good tool to help train sales people as to why PDF is important. http://www.prepressure.com/pdf/basics/history.

Just because a customer knows what a PDF is doesn't mean that the PDF a printer receives from the customer will print properly. Printers still need to educate their customers about how to create a PDF file that means print industry standards. The easiest way is to have the customer use a software system such as Adobe Job Ready, PagePath's PDF2U, Global Graphic's Jaws or Prismatek's PrintThat. If customers want to create their own PDF files, printers should be supplying a custom Job Option for Acrobat.

It is hard to believe, but there are still printing companies that don't have a PDF workflow or use PDF files to help them cut costs and time. As the print world gets more competitive, the company's that have embraced this 20 year old technology will succeed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top 10 Errors in Design Files

If your CSR staff is checking customer files,you might want them to look for the top 10 mistakes Adobe reports are usually made in a graphic design file.

1. The resolution of images is too low.

2. Fonts are not embedded in the PDF.

3. The wrong color space is used.

4. The information about trim or bleed are incorrect.

5. There is an inconsistency with the native file. The original page, as viewed in QuarkXPress or InDesign or whatever other application looks different from the PDF. Hairlines might be different or gradients have changed.

6. A spot color is misnamed or it is accidentally converted to a process color.

7. Images are compressed too much. This causes a quality loss and in some cases artifacts appear inside or around the images.

8. The page size is incorrect.

9. There are problems with transparent objects.

10. ICC profiles are missing or incorrect.

One of the reasons why many of these problems go undetected is that users will make proofs from their lay-out, check the proofs and then create PDF files. The PDF files don't get reviewed. It would be far better if designers created PDF files and then made a proof of these files. This way the consistency between supplied file and proof is much better.

All printing companies should be preflighting PDF files with Acrobat, Enfocus Pitstop, Markzware and other similar programs.

It takes time to check files to assure they will print properly. Rushing jobs through and skipping preflighting procedures won't save any time if you have to reprint the job.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is A Black Hole Sucking Away Your Future

Is your prepress department ready for the future? The role of the prepress department will expand and evolve as more services are added to the arsenal of products sold by printers. But before any printing company can add services, it has to be sure that the prepress department can handle the services now being sold.

Typesetting, design and file output are the standard services now offered by most printing companies. If you look closely at most financial statements, you’ll see that the prepress department is losing money because the printer isn’t charging enough to cover the department’s cost. As John Stewart says, prepress is a black hole.

To survive the future, the typical printers will have to attempt to reinvent themselves and offer more cross media services. Most of these services will be computer and Internet based so the logical department to produce the services is the current prepress department.

Print owners need to make sure their prepress department is making money today. Typesetting, design and customer file output should be profitable and not considered loss leaders. Printers can do this by using outside design and typesetting services to supplement the work produced in house. Printers can set standards for customer files and use the automation and workflow tools that come with most digital presses and direct-to-plate systems to cut production costs and increase profits.

It will be very difficult for a printing company to add additional services if the prepress departments are already losing money. If a prepress department is inefficient now or the prices charged for the service too low, then there will be no way to add other services to offset the current losses. If it isn’t profitable now it is never going to be.

You have to get ready for the future today. Make sure your sales people are charging fair and profitable prices for design and typesetting. Printers shouldn’t be giving away design work just to get the printing job. If you can’t produce it profitably in house, then use an outside vendor.

Automate now. Require customers to provide PDF files that are constructed according to your specifications. Use the hot folders and workflow systems that come with your equipment. Make the prepress staff learn how to use the tools properly.

It is up to the owner to make sure the changes happen. The owner needs to lead and make sure pricing for prepress tasks is correct and profitable. The owner has to make sure the staff is using the tools available to be more efficient. Printing is more competitive and as printing evolves it will be harder for the typical print shop to survive. You can no longer afford to live with a “black hole” in prepress sucking away profits. Unless you plug the profit leaks now, you won’t be able to add the new services that will be required to stay in business. The black hole may not just suck away prepress profits. It just might suck away your future.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Will Graph Expo Hold The Future?

How relevant will this year’s Graph Expo be to most quick and small commercial printers? As printers prepare to descend on Chicago, they are pondering the questions about the evolution of printing and where it will be over the next decade. Will the trade show offer a “killer app” to drive customers to printing? Will there be a new development exhibited that will eliminate production problems and guarantee profits? Will printers see the future when they walk the floor of the expo?

Graph Expo will only be as relevant as the attending printer makes it to be. Everyone knows the industry is changing. The printing pie is shrinking and the shift of work from offset to digital is well documented. Printers shouldn’t expect to see solutions jump out and grab them as they walk by a booth, but if the printer has a plan, then he or she should begin to get an idea of where the industry is going.

You should see a lot of interest in booths featuring products that expand a printer’s role in the communication process. Web-based products that allow printers to integrate a customer’s printed message with the Internet should get a great deal of interest. Any booth that has anything to do with automating the order entry and prepress process should get a lot of traffic. Products that make it easier for a customer to order should also gain wide attention.

In reality, a lot of the industry-shattering booths will be overlooked. Printers will gravitate toward “big iron” and traditional print processes. The real action will be in the booths along the edges of the trade show floor where “the next big thing” will be trying to gain some attention.

I suggest you go to Graph Expo with a plan. Look for products and services you aren’t using now. Look for things that you don’t usually see on the trade show floor. The big innovations will be in the small booths. There is where you are going to find the future of printing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Make A Call Today

Many of the printers I work with on a daily basis are reporting increased customer activity as schools start around the country. It is always good to hear about a bump in business, but it doesn’t overshadow the news of the demise of other printers. Printers continue to close their doors because they just don’t have enough business. There is still printing to be had out there, but you have to work harder to get it.

One basic task that will help quick printers survive is having sales activities. Customers need to know where you are and what you do. The only way that will happen is if you tell them. Printers have to get on the telephone and out of their offices to ask customers for their printing business.

How many sales calls are you making a day? A printer could increase sales if he would just call customers about reprinting the jobs that the printer already has on file for the customer. Most printers use computerized pricing programs that have a built-in tickler file. When you enter the original order, the CSR puts in an expected repeat date. The printer can then run a weekly or monthly report about what jobs are due to be reprinted. Printers I work with report that almost 20% of their sales volume comes from repeating work from existing customers. The regular call also uncovers things about the customer that the printer needs to know to keep the business. Making regular calls can let a printer find out if a print buyer has changed or if any other changes have happened with the customer. Printers who are sitting back and waiting for the customer to call them are waiting and waiting.

The same thing holds true with estimates and quotes. Printers constantly provide customers and prospects with prices. Successful printers follow up on the estimates and quotes to find out if they have the job. The calls also allow a printer to find out why he didn’t get a job. How many estimates do you have sitting in your computer right now?

Not only are these tasks simple, they give you a reason to call the customer. Study after study shows that most companies lose customers to inattention. If you aren’t reaching out and touching your customers on a regular basis, they may end up taking their business somewhere else. You want to be the first printer a company thinks about when they have a printing job to order.

The computer also has other good sales information. Have you compared your top 25 customers this year to the top 25 customers last year? Have you looked at who is buying more? Have you looked to see who is buying less? This list will show you which customers you need to be talking to and with who you may have to rebuild a relationship.

Printers have a ton of information on their computer that will make them money. The only thing a computer can’t do is make the call to the customer. Owners who make the call are going to be the ones who are still standing when the economy turns around.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Listen before you sell

Quick printers have a lot of technology at their fingertips, but it isn’t worth much unless customers need it. PDF files can automate the workflow, but printers don’t tell customers the benefits or how to use it. Online ordering is easy to provide customers, but how is a customer suppose to learn about it? Printers buy technology because they think it will increase their sales. When it doesn’t, the printer is disappointed and disenchanted with technology.

The problem is that printers aren't listening to their customers. Printers are just telling them about technology and hope the cutomer is interested. They should be trying to find out what their customers need and what they want. The printer must find out the benefits the customer is seeking from a printer.

To be successful, printers are going to have to improve their listening skills. I’ve been helping a number of quick printers dissect their sales call and the recurring problem is that the printer used the first sales call to talk about his company and not find out the needs of the customer. The printer is so afraid that he won’t get the chance to talk to the customer again he hits the customer with everything he has. This leaves the customer confused and the printer looking like, well, just another printer.

Cool technology will get you in the door. Statements such as “we can make your ordering easier using the internet” or “we can help you avoid problems submitting your files” can get you in the door. Once you get there, you need to just listen. Ask questions. Find out what the customer needs. Find out his pain. Asking questions and listening will help you build a solid foundation for the relationship.

The standard practice of many printing sales people is to list what they do and hope the customer has a need. If you will take time to learn about the customer, then you can begin using your experience to solve problems and offer benefits for using your company. Don’t start selling until the second appointment when you know something about the customer and really can help them with their printing needs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Prospering Only A Mouse Click Away

With all of the doom and gloom, it is nice to work with CPrint International and be with quick printers who are making money and moving forward. You need to click here at www.cprint.org to find out how a printer can prosper in these tough times.

As technology director and a consultant with the franchise, I get to see the work people are doing every day to make it through these tough economic times. The CPrint affiliates have their financial information in order so they know how they are doing. They have an organization in place so they can easily get the work through the shop. They are developing their selling machine so they can keep pouring leads into their sales funnel and build their business.

Printing is in the middle of an evolution. Print and the Internet are starting to merge as a new communication tool. The types of printing people buy and how they buy it is changing. Only a strong business will be able to evolve into whatever a printer will become in the next few years. CPrint is focusing on helping companies be able to withstand adversity and be ready to take advantage of new opportunities.

I'm just back from a speaking event where a CPrinter was training his customers and market about mobile marketing and the effect it will have on printed materials. I just visited another CPrinter who has married print with web technology that helps his customers get more sales leads. Printing has become more than just putting ink on paper.

If you are a printer you will want to know about CPrint International. You need to visit www.cprint.org and hear what CPrinters have to say about the organization and how it changed their life. You will want to sign up for CPrint Tips, an electronic newsletter that gives printers the information to make it through these tough economic times, at www.cprint.org/features/tips.html. It is free and can give you ideas to help make you money.

CPrint is a great way for an independent printer to join a franchise that provides a business model that works and will help a printer prosper. If you want to be successful and continue to grow, find out more about CPrint today.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mobile Marketing Means Printing Dollars

Mobile marketing is the new buzz word for marketing companies and it is one of the first new technologies to actually generate printing. In mobile marketing, a smartphone becomes a “third screen.” It joins a television and computer screen as a primary way for a user to access information. Experts predict that there will be more smartphone users access the Internet in the next 36 months than computer users. Printing will be the way that information is driving to smartphone users.

QR (Quick Response) codes make it easy for smartphone users to get to a particular web site or digital information source. The smartphone user simply scans a printed QR code and his web browser is directed to a web site. QR codes can also be used to send email messages or automatically update contact information. No matter what it is used for, it all starts with a QR code that is printed on something.

Quick printers need to know how to create and print QR codes. Any customer with a web site is a possible user. Since most businesses want more “eyes” on their web site, a business will want to print a QR code on every printed piece a customer might see.

The mobile marketing/QR concept is new to North America, but it is big in Asia and Europe. Printers who can bring this new technology to their customer should at least get to reprint all of the marketing and customer communication pieces a customer might have.

Finally, the Internet has given us a computer whizbang feature that will cause customers to buy more printing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quit complaining and sell something

Does anyone have anything positive to say about the quick printing industry? Many of the quick printers I talk to have a negative attitude about quick printing industry. They lament the changes and talk about how their customer base is shrinking. They point fingers at competitors such as Staples and Office Max or FedEx and the UPS stores and say those businesses are taking their customers with cheap copies. They complain about lazy employees who won’t do anything or equipment suppliers who keep the costs high. Everyone is out to get them.

I can’t agree. Most of these complainers are business owners who are in charge of their own destinies. They just fail to do the basic business functions any business needs to do to survive. They don’t maintain adequate financial records to know how they are doing. They don’t make sales calls. They think making a delivery of a completed job and asking if there is any other printing is a sales activity. They don’t train their employees. They don’t take advantage of the technology they have.

You can still make money in quick printing and there are printers doing just that. Those printers get out and talk to customers and prospects. They use the technology they have available. They make it easier for customers to buy printing. The successful printers are proactive and get in front of customers with ideas and solutions that can be provided by a printed piece.

If you are a quick printer, I have one question: how many sales calls have you made this week? If you aren’t out asking for new business then you will probably be one of those people who is complaining about the printing industry. If you are talking to customers and learning what they need, you are going to have a better attitude because you will find out there are businesses buying printing. You just have to ask for make a sales call and ask for their business.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Print Industry Still Here

Quick Printing Editor Bob Hall recent comments about offset being at the crossroads are correct. Printing is changing and the equipment used to produce the equipment is changing. But just because the amount of offset sales dropped doesn’t mean the end for the printing industry.

Many quick printers build their business on providing convenience printing for the printed material needed to run a business. The desktop computing revolution has eliminated that work. No longer does a business stop by to get copies. Almost anyone who owns a computer has a printer attached that can take care of those needs.

There is still money to be made in printing serving the small business customer. The printing shift is from functional forms to sales material. Printing is still the most powerful and cost effective way for small businesses to reach customers. With the new technology, especially in color, printers can produce high quality work that can be used to help a business sell something to someone.

I’m not talking about developing a marketing and advertising program for a business. I’m talking about reproducing the basic sales material customers need to sell their products and services. It doesn’t require a marketing degree or advertising savvy. All it requires is a printer talking to a customer and letting the customer know what a printer can do to help his business.

The printers who are going to success and grow their businesses are the ones who actually get out and talk to customers about printing and stop waiting for customers to call them because they mailed out a postcard a couple of months ago.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why Print?

Sometimes printers have a hard time trying to think about what to talk to customers about instead of "you don't need any printing today do you" sales calls. Printing is still one of the most effective and economical ways to reach customers, and if your customer sells something to someone, then they should be using print to touch their customers.

If you are looking for reasons print is important, look no further than the “Why Print” brochure available free from the Print Council. The Print Council produced a 24-page marketing brochure demonstrating the extraordinary value and effectiveness of print communications. Entitled "Why Print?, The Top Ten Ways Print Helps You Prosper", the full-color brochure is the first in a series of materials The Print Council makes available to printers to influence media decision makers' appreciation of the value of print.

Printers are encouraged to download and use any or all of the materials provided in their own marketing materials to underscore the power of print communications.

The Print Council is a business development alliance formed by leaders in the graphic arts industry whose goal is to influence and promote the greater use of print media. Download the artwork for the brochure at the Print Council's web site.

A 24-page brochure may be overkill, but the information is invaluable. You will find facts and ideas to support your blogging efforts, articles for your company newsletter, post cards and much more. You don't need to give all the information away at once. Each of the 10 reasons can be a separate discussion. The information in the "Why Print?" brochure should become part of the list of benefits you tell you customers about during a sales call.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Will QuarkPromote.com Help Printers?

Quark has launched QuarkPromote.com (www.quarkpromote.com), a new online web-to-print service that hopes to send online customers to local printers. The special web-to-print service is aimed at small businesses so they can create their own marketing materials that can be picked up at a nearby neighborhood printer or received by mail in just a few days.

Customers go online and use a special online application to create the file. The customer’s order then goes to a commercial printer. Quark is saied to be partnering with franchises such as well as independent printers.

Quark isn't doing the printing and hopes to help printers get more business. The local printers can select to be either a "print by mail" or a "pick up at a neighborhood printer" provider. In both cases, the output provider is determined by the zip code the customer has provided.

According to Quark, if the customer wants the order delivered by mail, the zip code is used behind the scenes to find a prints-by-mail provider in the region. The customer is not provided the opportunity to choose the printer and there is no relationship between the provider and the customer. Packages are shipped blind to the customer.

In the case of neighborhood printing, the zip code is used to display a list of printers near the customer. Matching shops are displayed on a Bing map and in a list. The customer chooses a shop and then completes a typical online ordering process. Prices, included shipping, are set by Quark. The customer also has the option of choosing a printer at a location other than their own if it is more convenient.

Quark offers a webcast for output providers on how the Quark Promote programs work. Send an email request to enrollments@quarkalliance.com to see the webcast.

Is this a good program for printers? It is if you are a printer who doesn't want to don't want to talk to customers or try to sell anything. Pricing is controlled by Quark and orders by mail is transparent to the customer. The only real selling opportunity will come if the printer elects to pick up the job locally.

The program is still new, but I haven't seen any money being poured into marketing the program to consumers. Until that happens, it will just be a feel-good program to make printers think they are really part of the web2print world.

My advice is for printers to get out and actually talk to customers and be proactive in selling. Don't wait for a customer to go to a website to pick out templates. Get out there and find out the customers' printing needs.

I do recommend that you take advantage of the QuarkAlliance.com program. Former Adobe ASN members can get a free copy of QuarkXpress 8 when they sign up. The offer is good through June 2010.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

QR Codes Next Big Thing

A bar code called Quick Response or QR Code is expected to begin having an impact on business information in the coming year and printers will have to know how to print it properly on customer’s material.

Printers already print bar codes. The new QR Code (or 2D Code) contains information in both the vertical and horizontal directions, where a bar code contains data in one direction only. QR Code holds a considerably greater volume of information than a bar code. In Japan, most current Japanese mobile phones can read this code with their camera and access additional information about the product. Initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR Codes are now used in a much broader context, including both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed at mobile phone users (known as mobile tagging).

QR Codes storing addresses and URLs (web addresses) are expected to start appearing in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards or just about any object that users might need information about. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader software can scan the image of the QR Code causing the phone's browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL. This act of linking from physical world objects is known as a hardlink or physical world hyperlinks.

For instance, a menu may include a QR code that links to a page with nutritional information. A business card may include a QR code that links to a web-site, blog or social networking site. The ability to direct a consumer to specific information will tie printed material closer to the Internet.

The QR codes are expected to start popping up in North America in the coming year as mobile phone companies add the software to their cameras. Printers should expect to get inquiries from customers soon.