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Bindery Checklists Prevent Mistakes in Surprising Ways

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Dec 02, 2016 / by Andre Palko posted in Folding Machines, Micro Perforating

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Marketing Ideas for Printers from Outside of the Box

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Oct 21, 2016 / by Andre Palko

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One of my favorite and most successful marketing ideas came to me from a chiropractor. In fact, nearly all of the successful marketing strategies here at Technifold USA were inspired by ideas from outside the printing industry.

Don’t get mad; I’m not bashing the printing industry. After all, I am IN the industry. I rely on it and I intend to be around it for a long time. The point is that as with industries everywhere, we tend to narrow our focus to our own community.

We keep an eye on what our competitors, colleagues and vendors do. How they advertise. How they sell. What they sell. What they’re reading. Who’s who and where they work. There is some sort of tribal comfort in being an insider.

There are benefits to this ‘insider’ mentality. We learn from each other and improve our trade and professional skills. We get insight into new manufacturing and service technologies. We learn the ins and outs of the industry. But does this help us in understanding the most important thing of all—our customer?

Claude C. Hopkins says it well in Scientific Advertising, “The maker of an advertised article knows the manufacturing side and probably the dealer’s side. But this very knowledge often leads him astray in respect to customers. His interests are not in their interests.” In other words you must walk in your customer’s shoes in order to be a  truly effective marketer. Sometimes we have to rattle our own cages to make that happen.

When my marketing ideas feel less-than-inspired, or when I’m faced with a challenging business predicament, I look outside our printing tribe for a spark. Such was the case several years ago when I was faced with a pricing problem.

Costs for our primary product had increased significantly. We had raised prices in the recent past (prior to the cost increase) and now were faced with a dilemma. We absolutely had to raise prices yet how could we do it again without alienating our customers?

Insider advice followed along two lines. One…send out a price increase notice and tell the customers that’s the way it is. Two…make less money. I felt the first option would leave a bad taste with customers and I really didn’t care if the industry was used to such dealings. Option two, well, that wasn’t an option. But apparently many print industry insiders think it’s OK to sell something at a loss as long as you’re selling something. (I still haven’t figured that one out!)

At the time I happened to be a member of Glazer-Kennedy’s Peak Performer group, made up of dozens of business owners in all kinds of industries from all around the world. During a lunch break at one of our meetings I was sharing my pricing crisis with a very successful chiropractor and fellow member. I didn’t expect any help, after all, how could a doctor help me with a printing business marketing problem?

In seconds, he offered an idea that inspired a solution because he had faced the same problem several times in his practice. I excused myself to work on the idea and in twenty minutes I had the sales letter written. It mailed the next day to our list of customers. It turned out to be one of the most successful short-term promotions we’ve ever done, one which we have yet to beat.

The ‘spark’ he supplied was brilliant in its simplicity and we refined it like this:

  • Announce the price increase (pretty normal so far.)
  • Give customers a chance to buy at the old price for the next 30 days (a little less normal)
  • Give customers a chance to lock in today’s price for up to 60 days by making a small deposit today and paying up to 60 or even 90 days later (totally NOT normal.)
  • Write the letter in a completely fun, non-business manner, signed and written by the staff with comments by the office cat. It included photos of staff and cat. Probably the ugliest letter ever. (Now we are in off-the-wall marketing territory.)

It worked.

Customers appreciated the openness and the opportunity to get additional tooling at the old price. There were no hard feelings because everyone had plenty of opportunity to lock in the old pricing. In fact, many were actually surprised that we would go to such lengths. They were accustomed to the industry ‘norm’ which was to receive a price increase notice without any options whatsoever.

To this day I still draw inspiration from outside the box and outside the industry. To be fair, this works in both directions. I know one restaurateur who used some ideas I suggested to him (print industry to restaurant industry…go figure) to help build a million dollar business. His colleagues in the area, who all use the ‘normal’, ineffective marketing and advertising ideas, are perplexed at how he stays busy day after day. Well, he went outside his tribe for marketing inspiration, that’s how.

The bottom line: expand your horizons, wherever you are and whatever your industry niche. Research outside your comfort zone and your tribe for that little extra something to make you stand out to your customer. By doing that, you will inevitably stand out in your industry.

 Newsletter marketing, both email and print, is hugely successful in a wide range of industries.

Yet in the printing industry, the newsletter marketing idea is often scoffed at and even disparaged. “No one else is doing it, why should I spend valuable time on a print or email newsletter.”  This despite the fact that printers are in a better position than anyone else to accomplish so much more for a lot less money.

The very fact that no one else is doing something is good enough reason for me to try it. You immediately stand out. But hey, you might make more money and increase your profit margins.

I won’t beat you over the head with this, but I’m just sayin’…

As always we welcome your feedback below.

 


Go explore the rest of the Technifold USA Bindery Success Blog for more articles on the printing business.

Check out all of our award winning Bindery Equipment Solutions at www.TechnifoldUSA.com.

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How Printers Helped To Create Content Marketing

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Oct 14, 2016 / by Andre Palko

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There is always some shiny new marketing idea, media or strategy being presented as the next big thing. I admit I’m easily distracted by cool, new techno-wizardry or the latest marketing fad and at times am overwhelmed by sheer choice. But experience has taught me there is truly nothing new under the sun. When faced with countless choices of apps, software, tools, fads and experts, there is an easy way to take the mystery out of new marketing ideas and instantly figure out if it’s of any use. I’ll share that in a moment.

First, a quick story on one of these hot ‘new’ marketing topics illustrates how what’s old is new again.  The new guise I’m talking about is “content marketing.” According to Wikipedia, content marketing refers to the “creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers.” To this end the content marketer delivers “consistent, valuable information” to the prospective and current customer through a wide variety of media.

I’ll wager that you immediately think ‘online’ when you hear ‘content marketing.’ Even Wikipedia mentions the use of “news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos,” and more, most of which are delivered digitally. Yet often in cases like this the only thing that’s new is the media (how it’s delivered.) The underlying concept is, you’ll see, as old as the hills.

It’s interesting that the evolution of printing technology itself—better and faster ways of putting ink on paper—gave rise to the original content marketing in print. Here are some classic examples.

Jell-O® began distributing free cookbooks, recipe pamphlets and samples door-to-door in 1904 in an effort to lift sluggish sales. Of course these included dessert recipes that promoted their product. Orator Woodward, the owner, originally purchased the rights to Jell-O® for $450 a few years prior. Frustration with slow sales prompted him to offer the product rights to the plant superintendent for $35 when he decided to try this no-name method of marketing. By 1906 they were doing $1 million annually, or about $25 million in today’s dollars, thanks to content marketing in its printed form. (No, he did not sell the rights!)

Going further back to 1895, John Deere started its own magazine called The Furrow. It delivered tips to farmers on how to make more money and be more productive. The company celebrated 175 years in 2012 and does about $33 billion annually. It still publishes The Furrow, sending it to a list of 1.5 million readers in 40 countries.

Another famous example is the Michelin Guide. It was originally a free travel tip guide for automotive travelers which began distribution in 1900. The idea was to boost demand for cars, car travel, and subsequently tires. Then there’s Buyer’s Guide Place started by a photography/electronics store named Magnolia in 1954. Their goal was to teach prospective customers how to buy electronic items wisely. Magnolia later sold out to Best Buy for $87 million.

That’s the ongoing power of content marketing. Provide something of value to prospective clients on a regular basis. They get to know you, trust you, and understand what you have to offer. If you’re talking to the right prospects, when the time is right, they’ll buy something from you.

It’s not complicated. It’s definitely not new. It’s simply a marketing strategy that gets a new name every few years. Business author Dan Kennedy called it magnetic marketing…more than 20 years ago. Another name for it is inbound marketing. (That’s hot now too.) The gist is that you are attracting customers to you rather than promoting through advertising and other ‘outbound’ methods.

Don’t get me wrong. There is no single right or wrong way to promote a business. My point is that if you ignore content marketing, especially in print, you are losing significant business.

So what’s my secret to taking the mystery out of countless marketing ideas and fads? I picture my ideal customer and my plan to attract, get to know, and do business with them. Then regarding that shiny new marketing object I simply ask, “Will this help me accomplish any of that?”

When I first started reading about the content marketing sensation, I laughed because I have been doing it for years and getting great results. I didn’t even have to ask my shiny object question. Our primary media for delivering content is the printed newsletter along with an enewsletter. Second to that we use every other media mentioned in the definition above, and more.

It’s proven to work in any business. Just look at our industry examples above. We have tires, food, farm equipment, electronics and printing. It’s not a fad and it can be productive for decades at a time.

Remember too that your reader will find value in a wide variety of content. Yes, we deliver industry-specific content in order to help our readers. Yet we know that they also value a good laugh, a bit of light distraction and personal development tips as much or more than the industry content itself.

So be sure to reach out on a regular basis, in as many ways as you can. Content marketing, especially in print, instantly sets you apart from your competitors. Make it a part of your marketing plan for attracting your ideal customer. 

 


Go explore the rest of the Technifold USA Bindery Success Blog for more articles of the printing business.

Check out all of our award winning Bindery Equipment Solutions at www.TechnifoldUSA.com.

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10 Reasons Why Printers Should Print Their Own Newsletters

[fa icon="calendar'] Tue, Oct 04, 2016 / by Andre Palko

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Do you truly believe in the power of the printed word? If I were to judge by the number of printed newsletters I get from commercial printers or quick copy shops, I’d be forced to say “No.” (That number by the way, is zero printed newsletters from the more than 18,000 printing businesses with which we’ve had contact for over ten years.)

Ironically, I get numerous printed newsletters from online marketing companies and service providers. Google, the king of online, even sends me printed mail on a regular, frequent basis. Let’s throw in the monthly printed word from CPA’s, my chiropractor, church and several trade associations. The silence from the printing industry is deafening, to borrow the cliché.

The evidence that printed newsletters work is compelling and their popularity is testament to their ability to beef up the bottom line in any industry. Here are 10 ways a newsletter works for your business.

Establishes you as an expert.
Whatever your area of printing expertise, you ARE the expert for your customer. That’s why they picked you. After all, don’t you work on your specialty 50 to 60 hours a week or more? Thousands of hours per year over many years gives you a field of knowledge that no one else has. A printed newsletter reminds your customer of your singular expertise.

Keeps you in the customer’s mind.
Buyers are ready to buy when they're ready to buy. If you are in front of them on a consistent, regular basis, the chance of them thinking of you when they are ready to take action increases significantly.

Bonds you to your customer with your unique, personal communication.
People buy from people. The more they know, like and trust you, the better the customer relationship. They are more apt to try something you recommend.

Adds value for your services.
When you include something useful that makes your customer’s lives easier, it makes you more valuable. Adding value makes it easier for you to get premium pricing and removes you from the commodity trap.

Establishes new business without cold calling.
A regular newsletter communication is much less intrusive than regular, pushy sales efforts. The net result of our newsletter marketing is that we do ZERO cold calls. None. We haven’t done cold calls in years.

Generates referrals.
Customers LOVE to pass along something helpful or entertaining to their friends. There is no easier new customer to acquire than a referral and a print newsletter is an ideal pass-around item.

Instantly sets you apart from your competitors.
I can’t stress this enough! Remember what I said about 18,000 printers…and NO newsletters? Many colleagues—in other industries—point out this sad fact to me about the lack of print newsletters from businesses whose heart and soul is print.

It drives traffic to your website and social media.
Newsletters build your email list and increase repeat web traffic which, in turn, increases your search engine rankings. The more ways you communicate, the more people you reach on a regular basis.

It Uses the Power of Example to persuade your customers to buy.
As a printer don’t you want every one of your business customers to start printing a monthly printed newsletter? What better way to get that type of business than leading by example! What would an extra 5, 10 or 20 regular monthly jobs do for your bottom line? You’re selling the power of print…use it!

It opens up all-important dialogues with your customers.
A regular printed communication keeps you on top of opportunities and helps you resolve problems that you might have otherwise missed.


 If you are not currently producing a printed newsletter, perhaps these ten reasons will cause you to re-consider. Great customer service and an emphasis on customer retention are the keystone of any successful business. There are many, many more reasons to print your own newsletter. Before you say “But I don’t have ______ to do a print newsletter” (fill in your own blank: time, money, talent, resources, etc.) you’ll want to check out Newsletter Marketing for Printers.

So c’mon folks, you have the power of print to stand on. Use it! We welcome your stories, comments and experiences below.

 


Go explore the rest of the Technifold USA Bindery Success Blog for more articles of the printing business.

Check out all of our award winning Bindery Equipment Solutions at www.TechnifoldUSA.com.

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How to Stop Losing Customers in Your Printing Business

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Sep 30, 2016 / by Andre Palko

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There are some surprising reasons a commercial printing business (or any small business) might lose a client. If you’ve been around the printing industry for any time, you know all about the common yet fatal customer service problems such as missed deadlines, printing errors, or finishing mistakes.

However, recent research from Pitney Bowes details some reasons that might sneak up on you. Aside from poor customer service, the next most cited reason for switching a supplier is ‘poor communication.’ In a survey of 1000 business managers around the world, 14.8% switched their Print Services provider within the past 12 months.

Their reasons might be surprising, especially for printers who focus on the popular customer service issues:

  • In the USA 28.9% say their reason for switching is that the supplier is “Not in touch”
  • 23.3% switched because they’re “not told about updates and developments”
  • 25.4% switched because they “don’t ask about customer’s needs”

To put it simply, if you don’t talk to your customers, you will lose a significant percentage of them this year. That’s a fact.

The nice management name for this is customer churn, turnover or attrition. As a small business owner, those mild-mannered names bother me because it disguises the severity of the problem. In a sense, it makes it seem acceptable.

Let’s think about this. The purpose of making the sale is to get a customer and to keep that customer for the lifetime of the business. So when we talk about customer churn, we are really talking about a process that works at complete odds with our reason for being in business. That makes it a critical, life-threatening business issue and being somewhat ornery, I call it what it is, losing customers.

It’s generally accepted that the cost of retaining customers is far less than the cost of acquiring customers, hence the need to motivate them to stick around. According to the Pitney Bowes research, even if you lose zero customers to customer service or production problems, you still need to focus on communications or your customer base will erode month by month. It’s my experience that most printers focus on the customer service problems in order to prevent the loss of customers while ignoring the communication issues.

So how, exactly, are we supposed to talk to our customers, to have good communication? Certainly there is no excuse not to communicate with your clients when you consider the media and technology available today:

  • email
  • social media
  • telephone
  • fax
  • direct mail
  • newsletters
  • sales people
  • customer service reps
  • and more…

Ideally you should use as many media as possible to communicate with your clients as part of an overall marketing strategy. Clients each have their own unique preferences for communication.

Believe it or not, one of the most powerful resources available to commercial printers and quick copy shops is one that I rarely see used in their communications. Ironically (and sadly) it’s the power of print itself that is missing.

Here’s a startling fact to illustrate my point. Our business, Technifold USA, is a supplier to the printing industry. We have more than 18,000 printers in our database, with several thousand of them as customers. I don’t get a single printed newsletter from any of them to communicate with us as a customer or as a potential customer.

Yes, we get some emails, some info kits, occasional postcards and other mailings. But not one printed newsletter reaches my desk!

Heck, I get printed newsletters from CPA’s (we hired one of the fellows that sent a printed version), from my chiropractor (I spend money there year in, year out,) from my church, (regular contributions there too) and from trade associations we belong to (annual dues and sponsorship of numerous events). I think you get the picture, printed communication = money.

One of the key findings in the study is that “Businesses find it difficult to grow without a stable customer base, but the technology is available to enable firms of all sizes to communicate effectively and retain their customers.”

In addition, printing companies have three substantial advantages over other small businesses and the retail consumer.

  • First, the resources for communicating via print are available to them at wholesale cost.
  • Second, the first printers to start sending print newsletters, (the early adapters,) will immediately stand out in the crowded, commoditized printing industry.
  • Third, the launch of Newsletter Marketing for Printing Companies makes it possible for commercial printers and copy shops to commit to sending a print newsletter without having to commit more than a few minutes a month in prep time.

Yes, as a printer you should absolutely continue to address those customer service problems that lead to customer retention issues. Yet as the study shows, if you are not communicating regularly with your clients, you will lose as much as 15% or more of your customer base each year. So why wouldn't you use one of the most potent weapons you have, which is the power of print itself.

 


Go explore the rest of the Technifold USA Bindery Success Blog for more articles of the printing business.

Check out all of our award winning Bindery Equipment Solutions at www.TechnifoldUSA.com.

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May the 'Printing is Dead' Debate Rest in Peace

[fa icon="calendar'] Thu, Sep 22, 2016 / by Andre Palko posted in Bindery Business Tips, bindery resources

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7 Uncommon Print Finishing and Bindery Resources

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Aug 26, 2016 / by Andre Palko posted in Bindery Business Tips, bindery resources

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Here are seven sites to help you discover things about print finishing you might not have thought you needed to know. They range from the unusual to the scholarly and a few places in between!

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How to Get More from Your Small Folding Machine

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Aug 19, 2016 / by Andre Palko posted in Folding Machines, gatefolding, baum 714, small format folders

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The type of folding machine we’re talking about is seen in thousands of small quick printing shops and digital printing departments around the world. It has two fold plates along with either a friction or air feeder. Some of the more popular ones include Baum 714, Morgana UFO, MB CAS, Challenge Medalist, Martin Yale and many more. They handle the most common types of folds such as letter fold, accordion folds, double parallel, and single folds.

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How to Make Shrewd Print Finishing Production Decisions

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Aug 12, 2016 / by Andre Palko posted in perforating, print finishing, production planning

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One of the beneficial things about an abundance of print finishing technology is that we get more flexibility in how, when, and where to finish any given job. Yet that same flexibility makes production planning more complex.

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How to Make More Money with your Graphic Whizard Scoring Machine

[fa icon="calendar'] Wed, Aug 03, 2016 / by Andre Palko posted in Bindery How-To Tips, Bindery Business Tips, Video Tips

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There is something about bindery equipment that is endlessly fascinating to anyone with an “erector set” brain. The mix of mechanical and electronic cleverness always leaves me asking, “OK, what else can we do with this piece of print finishing equipment?”

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