Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Communication Stereotypes Must Be Broken

Printers need to think about breaking down their stereotype thinking about the best way to communicate. As a "communications expert," you are going to have to help customers decide what is the best way to broadcast their message. Printers must be able to integrate print, Internet and social media message if they want to help their customer get the greatest message reach.

No one generation limits their communication opportunities. Young or old, people are adapting to the media that best serves their needs. This means a 20-something may prefer print and a 60-something may want emails. It just depends on the individual.

Statistics are backing up that age is the primary factor. If you think it is all about the Internet with young people, you are wrong. North American consumers aged 18-34 year-old prefer to learn about marketing offers via postal mail and newspapers rather than online sources such as social media platforms, according to survey from ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting.

Young adults say they prefer direct mail and newspaper advertising over online marketing in every instance except travel. Postal mail has a higher degree of trust for respondents in all age brackets: 36% of respondents in 2010 said information is more private if sent through the mail vs. email or online, up from 29% in 2008.

If you think social media is for the young, then you will be surprised to learn that one of the fastest growing segments of Facebook is women over the age of 55.

What this points out is that when you have a message to communicate you will want to use several different methods to get it out. Today's printing companies will have to focus on the message. Social media and the Internet become just another output device similiar to a press or digital printer. It allows you to duplicate the message and transmit to many.

Printers will need to embrace the new media or find themselves fighting for a smaller portion of the communication market.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Can You Create an Ebook?

If you are a printer, do you know all the ways a customer will be using the information you print for them? There are more communication channels that print and you might be able to reformat and repurpose the same information for other uses and make more money on the job.

If you use InDesign 4 or above, you can save files so they can be read by ebook readers. Adobe offers step-by-step instructions for setting up ebook documents and exporting the file into the open EPUB ebook format. This format can be read on desktop reading applications, smartphones, and dedicated reading devices. You can learn how to do the formatting by visiting http://www.adobe.com/products/indesign/epub/howto/.

Even the big printers know they have to deal with other communication channels by reformatting their work. Quad/Graphics just announced it is getting into the Apple software business. With the Quad/Graphics Digital Edition platform magazines, catalogs and retail advertising can now be published for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. According to the company, the solution gives Quad/Graphics' clients the ability to distribute content by print and mail, digital edition and branded Apple apps.

Quad/Graphics will provide its customers with a client-branded iPad application, developed by ePublishing partner YUDU Media. These apps are made available online at the Apple store, where the printer's clients can offer them for free or set their own sale price.

I expect to see these type of services available for quick and small commercial printers in the future.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Charity Begins at Home

A recent printer’s email was lamenting the fact that non-profit organizations were always beating on him to lower his prices. He was complaining that because they were “non-profit” he felt obligated to provide a lower price because they weren’t in the business to make money.

I have to disagree. Being a non-profit organization means that an organization does not distribute its surplus funds to owners or shareholders, but instead uses them to help pursue its goals. The organization is also exempt from paying some local, state and federal taxes. It doesn’t mean the organization is poor or that its employees work for free.

In a new book entitled Death to the BCS, the author studied tax records of bowl organization for college football’s end of the season wrap up and found that nearly two dozen bowl directors earned more that $300,000 a year. Most of these organizations are non-profit organizations. I wonder how many printers “donated” printing to their local bowl game?

Of course, there are some organizations that work with volunteers and need the community support from local businesses to do their good deeds, but too many printers believe that any organization that is non-profit has to get a special deal.

It is easy to find out if a non-profit organization really needs help. Most state governments keep records about non-profit groups that show how much money and services really make it to the cause in need. You can also check out legitimate organizations at http://www.guidestar.org./ The Guidestar site gathers and publicizes information about nonprofit organizations. Visitors to the site can even access an organization’s IRS Form 990. This is an annual reporting return that certain federally tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS. It provides information on the filing organization's mission, programs, and finances. You can even find out how much the organization spent on printing for that tax year.

Discounting is just another way to avoid having to do the hard work of getting out and talking to customers and asking for the order. Discounting might be a selling strategy if the printer was making money and could afford it.

One of the main reasons that printers are going out of business is that they don’t charge enough. I see print owners working 60 to 70 hours a week and still not making any money. They use price as their selling tool and figure the only way to get new business is to be the cheapest vendor.

Non-profit organizations can be top customers for printers. If you are going to discount to a non-profit organization, make sure you still make a profit. A non-profit organization can provide enough printing on a regular basis that a printer could adjust prices because of the large volume of steady work.

If you are going to discount to a non-profit organization, make sure there is something in it for you. You can offer a lower price if the non-profit organization will guarantee a certain sales volume or a certain volume of work.. Don’t lower your price unless the customers is going to give you something in return.

I recommend that every printer be a good neighbor and help sharable organizations when they can. But remember, charity begins at home and we can’t help our neighbors if our house isn’t in order.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Truth About Print and the Environment

Printers are battling the misconceptions that printing is bad for the environment. A Youtube.com video from Millcraft Paper provides some very powerful information to raise awareness about the business and environmental benefits of print as an effective marketing communications channel. The campaign aims to dispel the myths and misperceptions that paper and print marketing campaigns are harmful to the environment. Paper and print provide a sustainable means of communication and are an effective medium in a multi-channel marketing campaign.

Besides using the facts raised in the video in your sales presentations, you can also combine the video with a QR code to promote the fact you are “green.” We’re learning that videos have a tremendous impact with used with mobile marketing. The QR code could be included in your newsletter and on post cards.

You can find out more about the “Do you know the facts?” campaign at http://doyouknowthefacts.com/. You can view the Youtube video at http://tinyurl.com/23e4w86.

The topic would also be a good excuse to contact your local environment reporter for the local newspaper. The video raises interesting facts that would make for an interesting news story for the general public. The local reporter could use the facts and interview you for the local angle.