Are you Becomming a New Age Print Company

In recent years, the print industry has undergone tremendous change, primarily as a result of technology and the emergence of other competing media. That being said segments of the industry are robust and growing.

Generally, the industry is comprised of three different, but sometimes overlapping, industry segments

  • Informational printing – including books, magazines, newspapers, and similar products, designed primarily to convey information content. This sector of the industry has been hit hard by changing technology.
  • Marketing printing – including advertising flyers, posters, wide format, point-of- purchase displays, direct mailing pieces, and similar related products and services. This sector, while it did suffer slowdowns beginning with the Great Recession, as marketing budgets were reduced sharply, is back and experiencing healthy growth once again.
  • Logistical printing – without question the fastest growing segment of the industry, this encompasses packaging, fulfillment services, and similar related products and services. This is the area of the industry that is least affected by new competitors, but where the technological changes have been most significant

In recent years, there has been a fair amount of inaccurate information about the state of the industry and its health. Much of this has been the result of the excessive focus on the Informational Sector, with high profile magazines and newspapers closing, and the advent and growth of e-books and on line news sources.

The Print Industry it is at a  pivotal juncture. The industry is being redefined by significant changes in technologies, customer expectations, overall GDP growth, industry growth prospects, and industry consolidation. The successful printer of the future will re-define the print business differently than the past. New technologies, skills, market approaches and integrated services will define the Print Industry of the future.

An article titled The Future of Print by Andrew Paparozzi, published on September 29, 2014, reported on a study of owners and managers of companies that print. This “Future of Print” study, reported  “what was” is rapidly being overtaken by “what can be.” Examples cited were:

  • Generic direct mail compared with highly personalized direct mail carrying “QR codes or PURLS that allow you immediate feedback on the success/failure of the ”
  • Mass-market catalogs compared with “on-demand, evergreen catalogs with variable-data processing tailored to individual needs and delivered very ”
  • Traditional business cards compared with cards with “QR codes on the back to scan contact information directly into the phone without ”

The survey concludes, “of course, innovation will continue, with print incorporating new ways to create value over the (future)…the opportunity for every company in our industry is to understand how our clients and prospects can benefit from the innovation…

The National Association for Print Leadership(NAPL), published The Tenth Edition of State of the Industry Series states that old Print Industry thinking must be purged. The winners in the future will have nothing to do with size, traditional equipment configuration or ownership structure.

The mindsets and activities below, were included in the NAPL report, as required, for future success in the Print Industry.

  • The Successful Company needs to master new skills, methods and mindset because in an industry that is being redefined, as ours is, it isn’t the strong that get stronger, it’s the most flexible and adaptable, the most knowledgeable and best informed that get
  • Integrating services-not simply adding services, into programs that make us more valuable to the Company’s clients is key to

Though this report clearly indicates the need for change it’s clear that for those firms that can adapt and evolve, there is real benefit to be achieved, with fewer and fewer firms pursuing a steadily growing market

The Print Industry (PIA) also published a report on the future of the Print Industry “Beyond the Horizon Report“. The Report identifies the following characteristics as among those required to thrive in the future print industry.

  • Plants will be multi-process in providing conventional (sheet fed or web) printing integrated with digital and various ancillary services as a “one stop” shop that can match the technology to the job and combine multiple technologies in the same job.
  • They will be “solution providers” and marketing service organizations that focus on higher end value-added products and services and market both deeper and higher in their customer’s
  • In total the evolving, adapting printing firms will exhibit the keys to success of many of today’s industry profit leaders with a “specialized diversification” strategy in particular print market segments while diversifying into more value added ancillary services and printing

3 industry reports, one conclusion, The Formula for Success in the Print Industry has Changed. A “New Age Print” Company’s sustainable competitive advantage will require integrating new and existing technology, industry experience and know-how, and a one stop shop mindset, that offers customers unique solutions which satisfy their needs, reduce logistical risk, and improve support and service levels. Flexible manufacturing processes and data handling capabilities for Variable Data printing will be an assumed capability.

 

Are you and your company preparing to succeed.

Business Processes –Chaos or Predictable Results

 

Most successful companies are established with the objective to profitably satisfy a customers need for a physical product or a service in a particular market. One could think of a company as a matrix of business processes established to support the company’s objective. Looking at a business from this perspective completely changes how business processes are viewed. They are no longer a necessary evil, they are the foundation of a successful company.

 

So what is a business process. A business process is a coordinated set of actions that are carried out to achieve a specified business purpose. Following business processes allows a company to get a predictable result based on a known set of inputs. This predictability is required for a company to achieve its objective. What would happen if a company did not have this predictability. Lets imagine a company’s payroll process and make the following assumptions

 

Each time the payroll process ran

  • The pay period was based on the Company’s cash balance
  • The process did include agreed to withholdings for savings, insurance, and taxes
  • Wage rates changed without communication
  • Direct deposits were made on a random basis

 

Although these assumptions are nonsensical they make a point. Without business processes that drive predictable results a company will experience CHAOS !!! In our payroll example employees will leave, internal reporting will drive bad or prevent decisions, insurance companies will cancel policies , and government agencies will have a field day and go wild.

 

I’m going to make a bold statement, “a company is only as good as its business processes and in fact any business process, overtime, any can prevent a company from achieving its objective. Consider that a small business will have 50 to 100 business processes and large multinational company will have thousands of business processes. Let’s assume each of the large multinational company business flows has a few minor flaws that are insignificant in the isolated business process. Now consider what the cumulative effect of these flaws will be, when each business process infects thousands of other interrelated business processes with its flaws. The impact of these flaws in not predictable. Business processes without predictable business results will negatively impact a companies’ ability achieve its objective and CHAOS will creep into a company as a cancer. I believe that establishing effective, predictable business processes will avoid chaos and provide the foundation for a company to achieve its business objectives.

 

A business process is a coordinated set of actions that are carried out to achieve a specified purpose. Following processes allows a company to get a predictable result based on a known set of inputs. A business process usually has 5 elements ;An Owner, Inputs, Activities, Outputs and Customers. I will use the payroll process to describe these element.

 

Process Owner

The Person, Organization or Department who is responsible for the management of the Inputs, Activities, Outputs and Customer satisfaction of the payroll process.

 

 

 

Inputs

  • Available Money
  • Number of hours worked for each employee
  • Wage per hour
  • Payroll period
  • Withholdings calculations for 401K, Savings, Insurance and Taxes
  • Social Security #
  • Employee #
  • Employee Department #
  • Bank Information

 

Activities

  • Calculate gross wages, 401K withholding and matching, insurance withholdings, and taxes due, etc.
  • Ensure adequate funds are in the bank
  • Distribute wages, withholdings, and taxes to various stakeholders

 

Outputs

  • A payroll deposit or physical paycheck
  • A reconciliation of gross pay to net pay
  • Deposits in savings, insurance agency and governmental bank accounts
  • Regulatory and business required reports

 

Customers

  • Employee
  • Bank
  • Government Entities
  • Insurance Companies
  • Finance / Accounting Department
  • Employee managers

 

 

The above examples of Process Owners, Inputs, Activities and Outputs are understandable and easily transferred to other types of business processes. The definition of a customer requires a bit more explaining. A customer is a person, organization or entity that uses or relies on an outcome of a particular business process. There are two types of customers for a business process ;an external customer is a person, organization or entity outside the business, such as an entity that is paying for a product or service, a 3rd party supplier or a governmental organization; an internal customer is an employee, manager, another department or organization inside a company. In order for a business process to be effective (and avoid chaos) it must satisfy the agreed to needs of all external and internal customers. Business processes must be flexible because customer’s needs are always changing. In addition if you are a member of a company your are most likely both a supplier and consumer of at least one business process.

 

Customer needs should be documented in a Customer Service Agreement (CSA), which identifies and documents the customer’s needs that will be satisfied by the process owner, as well as the metrics that will be used to measure the level of compliance with the agreement. In order to avoid future conflicts or misunderstanding the CSA should be as detailed a possible.

 

I plan on several blog posts concerning business processes, so stay tuned. What points do I want you to take away from this post

  • A business process is a coordinated set of actions that are carried out to achieve a specified purpose.
  • A business process usually has 5 elements ; An Owner, Inputs, Activities, Outputs and Customers.
  • Business processes should not be viewed as a necessary evil. In fact they are the foundation to a company achieving its business objectives.
  • To be effective a business process must result in a predictable outcomes based on known set of inputs and satisfy all customers needs
  • A business process usually has 2 types of customers, internal and external
  • A company is only as good as its business processes and in fact any business process, overtime, any can prevent a company from achieving its objective.
  • Process Owners and Customers should use Customer service agreements

 

 

Personalization Creates Relevance and Drives ROI

I always appreciate a handwritten card or letter. To me it seems more personal or sincere than a text or email containing the same words. I find it engages me more, I read it slower, and I remember the message longer. I appreciate the effort. It seems that consumers have a similar perception when comparing a personalized ad/communication to a generic one. In fact, according to a Yahoo study, when comparing personalized ads/communications to generic ads/communication, the study found that
 

  • 54% of consumers believed personalized communication was more engaging
  • 52% of consumers perceived that they were more likely to learn something new with personalized communication
  • 45 % of consumers felt personalized communication was more memorable

 
The fact that personalized communication creates greater perceived relevance or engagement, is important, given the growing body of evidence that consumers are developing unfavorable attitudes concerning poorly targeted or irrelevant communication.
 

Personalization has its risks though. One always needs to remain highly sensitive to the perception of invading a consumer’s privacy. Although, over 60% of the above survey respondents indicated that they were not opposed to having traditional marketing information collected.
 

According to a published Econsultancy report about 6 in 10 company marketers believed that personalized content is fundamental to their strategy. That being said, company marketers believe that the type of personal information impacts ROI .   The following chart illustrates the relative value that marketers place on specific data.

Data Type % of Companies Saying This Data Has High Impact on ROI % of Companies That Gather and Use This Data
Purchase history 74 38
User Preferences 70 45
Interactions with Brand History 65 32
Personal Data 54 65

The above chart also highlights an issue. There is a significant discount between the relative impact on ROI and the % of companies that are gathering the information believed to have the most ROI value. As an example 74% of companies believe that purchase history information significantly impacts ROI yet only 32% collect and use it. I believe this disconnect is driven by the plain fact that systematically collecting and validating this information is difficult.

How would a company collect this information? One alternative to accurately capturing this information is to start from scratch and invest in an integrated system that collects all information from various channels and at various points in the sales and marketing pipeline in a central depository and then create processes to cleanse the data. I’m unaware of a off the shelf integrated system available today that can achieve this objective. It would probably need to be a custom system and could be cost prohibitive. Over the last 15 years companies have invested in point solutions that solve an urgent pain point in the sales and marketing funnel and collects valuable data. Unfortunately point solutions create isolated data islands with limited capability to share information. It is not uncommon for companies to have numerous isolated data islands. An alternative to developing a custom system from scratch is building data bridges between the isolated data islands, hoping to create an integrated view of the consumers information. Due to architectural differences, data dictionary variations, lack of IT resources, and corporate politics on who should drive the effort, companies are struggling to effectively build the required data bridges. The cost of ownership in integrating, maintaining, and updating a system of data bridges between data islands is going to be extremely high.
 

An inadequate or disconnected infrastructure is risky because it will result in data integrity that is less than acceptable. Personalizing a customer communication with the wrong information is going to have a significantly negative impact on customer engagement.
 

A significant amount of infrastructure still needs to be developed to accurately capture and use personal information that consistently results in a high ROI. But when a company gets it right it can have a tremendous impact. An Econsultancy study of global company marketers indicated that since implementing a personalization program 32% of the companies in the survey experienced a major shift in search engine marketing conversion rates while 60% indicated a minor uplift.

When developing a personalized campaign it is imperative that the data is correct!! Once you are over the data integrity hurdle your campaign should ensure the following

  • The campaign inspires engagement or action
  • The personalization is noticeable
  • The communication is appropriately timed in the engagement cycle
  • The campaign is leveraging the consumers preferred communication channel

 

While hand written notes and letters may be becoming a bygone era, personalization is here to stay and in an ever more competitive world will have a significant impact on ROI and revenue growth rates. The question we all need to face is how are we going to collect, store, analyze, cleanse and use the information in a fashion that drives the highest ROI?

 

Direct Mail is still alive and kicking…

Direct mail is still one of the most effective ways to reach customers. In fact, direct mail response rates outperform all digital channels combined: 3.2% versus 0.62% with a house list, according to the Direct Marketing Association.
So, whether you are looking to reach existing customers or attract new clients, consider the following tips to increase your direct mail response rates.

  1. Be Relevant with your audience. With variable data, content and imagery, you can create relevant direct mail pieces that is relevant to the recipient. Tie the messaging content, imagery and offers to demographic information you have on your customer. Recent research shows that 86% of consumers say personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions.
  2. Give them a reason to respond. Include a compelling offer, such as “Open now for 25% savings!” or “Contact us today for a free quote!”. Add a response device such as a Discount Card or tear off coupon to get the consumer involved
  3. Push the envelope. Try an unusual mailer format such as multiple folds, a three-dimensional finish or a die-cut shape. Anything that stands out in a cluttered mailbox can help stimulate curiosity. In fact, nearly 80% of consumers say that they will act on direct mail that interests them immediately.
  4. Make responding easy. Give multiple ways to response by including a business reply card and a toll-free phone number. Personalized URLs (PURLs) leading to a campaign-specific landing page are also an effective way to increase response rates, especially considering 43% of people prefer to respond to direct marketing online.

The answers to your revenue growth questions are found within your sales organization

Today’s sales leaders are under increasing pressure to be more effective, efficient and increase the ROI of the sales force. Many successful leaders are finding the answers with their existing sales organizations. Most sale organizations have their are top performers. the top performers excel because they understand the complete value proposition(s) of a company’s product or service and communicate it to a buyers team in the correct format, at the appropriate time and through the correct channel. They usually also prioritize following up and keeping the buyers team engaged throughout the sales funnel.
Progressive sales leaders are ensuring that the activities and processes of the top performers are no longer being kept a secret; they are broadcasting them throughout the sales organization. The goal is to get the bottom 80% of the sales force to act like the top 20%. Easy right…wrong! Sales organizations need better ways to preserve and leverage collective expertise. A successful sales function will transform into a continuously learning organization, that continuously improves its processes, and ROI. A company who provides its top producers the tools to easily share their know-how and measure adherence to prescribed activities will lift the performance of the entire team.
Tools and software are becoming available to make it simpler to systematically follow and automate the top sellers practices. The tools are not yet broadly used but deployment will advance quickly when the exponential improvement in conversion rates and ROI are more broadly understood. Although the term for these tools is loosely defined, I label them Sales Enablement and Automation (SEA) technology. Utilizing these tools, a sales organization can use the knowledge of its top performers and create a Company Specific Benchmark Sales Process (CSBSP) that includes measurement tools to highlight what is working and what is not. Armed with this quantitative data the sales team can intelligently and continuously improve its CSBSP driving improved ROI. The CSBSP ensures that the sales team is effective by engaging in the benchmark sales processes and messaging but standardizing processes allows automation which drives significant efficiency. The SEA tools, processes, and mindset will systematically result in sales professionals having more thoughtful and extensive dialogues with prospects throughout the sales funnel and by using best practices will convert today’s prospect into a loyal customer.

Major Changes Underway to Sales Strategies

The Internet, digital marketing, marketing automation, CRM, fundamental changes in business structure, and significantly higher customer expectations have made the traditional sales model virtually obsolete.

Traditional sales professionals were 2 parts personality and one part knowledge. Historically, product knowledge was unique to the company, therefore handled by internal training, and was the crown jewel of the sales force. The role of sales was ingratiate the buyer and communicate the features and functionality of a product to a comparatively less educated buyer.

Today’s buyers are cross-functional teams, empowered with access to timely and relevant product information. Consequently when a sales professional meets a buyer, the buyer has likely explored several competitive options and developed strong opinions about the products or services several companies offer.

Although these buyers are competent professionals, their opinions may have been arrived at without an appropriate contextual framework or a complete understanding of a company’s offerings. Without a well-trained sales force, armed with benchmark sales processes, tools and communication protocols, the buyer may never truly understand the value proposition of your product or service.

A Forrester Insight Study found that only 13% of executive buyers believe current sales professionals can clearly show that they understand the executive’s business issues and articulate a way to solve them.

The sales professional today interacts with a cross functional team of highly educated buyers (that may have conflicting objectives). The cross functional teams will
• Conduct independent research and have developed opinions and biases concerning products and services prior to meeting with a sales professional
• Ask more complex, multi-functional, questions
• Make requests for additional custom assessments on products and services, extending the sales cycle
• Demand customized information about how their businesses will be impacted by a product or service
• Include key influencers (Senior Management), who the sales professional may never interface with

Because of the reasons discussed here-in, the sales function needs help if it wants to significantly influence and add value to a customers purchasing decision. They need processes, tools, training, and relevant real time content on a 24/7 basis.

Significant investments have been made in the front end of the sales funnel in Marketing Automation and CRM. Marketing Automation delivers a “sales ready lead” to the sales force and CRM provides management visibility into the opportunities available and sales activities underway. Similar investments have not been made in the sales function. Just like a chain though, the sales and marketing funnel is only as strong as its weakest link. Currently the sales function is the weakest link.

In order to be relevant to the empowered purchasing team, investments must be made in the sales funnel to create an enabled sales professional. An enabled sales professional is armed with the right information, for the right buyer, at the right time and place, and in the right format to move a sales opportunity forward. Enabling a sales force requires a strategic, continuous improvement, problem solving process that systematically uses best practices to convert a sales ready lead into a loyal customer.

Sales will always be a combination of art and science but the market place is currently driving it to more scientific processes and tools. Sales Enablement and Automation tools are are becoming available in the market place. Sales Enablement and Automation tools drive science into the sales function’s processes and tools. The question is not ” if you will invest in Sales Enablement and Automation tools” but “how much pain and lost opportunities are you willing to accept before you do”.

The path forward for the sales function is clear, The Enabled Salesforce, choose that path.

New Year, New Possibilities, New Resolutions…

2016logo

I actually like New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a fresh start and anything is possible. You can re-set your goals and methods with a bright outlook for the coming year. A psychologist friend of mine suggests that to succeed with change, make small corrections in your behavior. If you want to wake up earlier, don’t go from 6AM to 4AM. You may last a week. Try 5:30AM instead and set the coffee to go off at 5:15AM so its ready when you hit the kitchen. Exercise is always a good one this time of year. Please don’t try to run a marathon tomorrow. I made a drunken New Years Eve resolution to run a marathon many, many years ago. My first jog was about 1.5 miles and I was exhausted (and I was slow). I kept it up for 6 months starting in January and ran the Palos Verdes Marathon in June. Finished in 3:37 minutes. Did I say that was a very long time ago?
So for 2016 my resolution is to provide better service to my customers. I will be more responsive and helpful and offer my 30+ years of experience to each and every situation. If you need anything regarding Cards, Labels, Affixing, Finishing, Fulfillment or Mailing, please let me know.
Happy New Year Everyone. May 2016 be your best ever.

Go ahead – be creative…

Have you ever had one of those brilliant ideas for a direct marketing

piece, but then couldn’t put all the pieces together so the post office will

deliver it at a reasonable price.

I know you creative types. These moments of brilliance come crashing

down to earth when the nearest postal expert declares, “that will never

go at the presort rate”.

Or just some other cool idea for a luggage tag, window decal, sample

packet or who knows what, but you can’t find a way to get it printed, or

affixed or delivered or all of the above.

Those of you who know me, know where I am going with this. Call us

at NCLA. We create solutions to production problems. Every day.

We love this stuff. And if it’s too crazy an Idea, we will figure that out

too and tell you it can’t be done (but that is pretty rare).

A recent example…a friend and colleague comes to me with an idea for

a luggage tag, that was brought to him by an ad agency. It was

impossible to produce exactly as designed, but with a few minor

tweaks, we could do it. We offered the solution, my customer pitched it

to the agency and it became a very nice order.

 

brilliant

Now… Take a moment and give Thanks

For me, I start with God. For you, its your choice. If you are reading

this, you are far better off than the vast majority of the world. We have

so many comforts and securities that we lose site of the struggle much

of the world faces every day.

If you are employed, thank your boss. If you are the boss, thank your

employees. If you are married, thank your significant other. If you have

parents, thank them. If you have kids, thank them. Get the point? Yes

we all have things to gripe about, but focus on what you have to be

thankful for, and the negatives don’t seem so bad.

Make it a habit to have and show gratitude. Not just the 4th Thursday in

November, but all year long.

Labels are Everywhere!

It’s not one of those things we think about at the end of the day. “Gee honey, I saw 5 different labels today.” But if you look around, they are everywhere. There is good reason that pressure sensitive labels are so popular today. They are used in…

  • Packaging
  • Marketing
  • Promotion
  • Print correction
  • Customer involvement

Just take packaging for instance. Enter any retail establishment and you are surrounded by them. In marketing, labels may be a little less obvious, but keep your eyes open.

Static Clings, post it style notes, floor displays, peel and reveals, scratch off…yup. Those are all labels.

So get the creative juices flowing and add a peel and reveal label on your next self-mailer. It will draw the reader into your message.

Add a post it style note to the catalog page you want to highlight.

Add a reflective foil label to add some pizazz to your next envelope package.

And don’t forget that pressure sensitive labels come in materials from white offset to holographic foil and everything in between. Add to that the unlimited shapes and sizes available and you have a creative dream come true.

And for the pragmatist, there are adhesive choices from repositionable up to heavy duty permanent so you can even choose your labels life span (sort of).

I realize that I am going on and on about labels, but you might just say that I am stuck on them.

Contact us at NCLA for suggestions. We love to help you sell more.