Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sales Brochures: A Brief How-to for the Uninitiated

An effective brochure is one that gets read. A brochure that gets read is one that is planned for and has a clear focus. Brochures can be used to

• Keep your product or service at the top of customers’ minds.
• Differentiate you from your competition.
• Reinforce your marketing message and your brand image.
• Present new info or update info about your company to your customers and prospects.

Brochures have a lot of capabilities, if you design them right. If you haven’t created a brochure, or want to improve your current brochures, read on for some tips to add creativity to the brochure printing process.

1. Decide on your brochure’s purpose. Do you want to let people know about your new product line? Do you want to inform customers of your new location and all the amenities there? Create one brochure for one purpose. If you mishmash a lot of information just to fill up the brochure of if you think you’ll save money by combining all your brochure purposes into one brochure, you’re brochure will not get read. Too much clutter turns people off and they won’t even look past the cover of your brochure.

2. Choose your target audience. The potential buyers for your product or service should have some characteristics that identify them as prospective customers. Don’t just send your brochures out to everyone in the phone book. That’s a waste of money. Carefully target your audience so that you can craft your message for that audience. Brochure copy that is targeted toward a Baby Boomer audience should differ from copy that is target to teens. You need to appeal to each group individually since they won’t both respond to the same motivations.

3. Next, create a plan. Bad or decent brochures can be written and designed in a few hours. Awesome brochures that have higher readership take weeks or even a couple of months to create. Some development timeline rules of thumb: Give the writer 3 to 7 business days. The designer gets 7 to 14 business days. Add the printer’s timeline of 2 to 14 business days and you’ve got about a month before your brochures can get to your customers.

If you’re planning a brochure for your store’s grand opening or a new product launch, give yourself at least a month to prepare the brochures and then another week or so for mailing, if necessary.

4. Implement your plan. Hire a writer and designer if necessary. Compare different brochure printing companies and don’t forget about online printing companies. They can often beat out your local printer with sales and specials.

Of course, this is a simplified step. There’s many more details to implementing your plan, but I just wanted to give newbies the gist of what takes place when creating sales brochures.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Xerox Says Net Falls 19% But Confirms Outlook

Xerox Corp.'s second-quarter profit slid 19% on a restructuring charge and lower margins, but the copy-machine and printer company maintained its 2008 profit outlook despite concerns about the weak U.S. economy.

Xerox, based in Norwalk, Conn., reported net income of $215 million, or 24 cents a share, down from $266 million, or 28 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter. The latest quarter's net was diminished by five cents a share in restructuring charges. Revenue climbed 8% to $4.53 billion, helped by a 19% gain in developing markets. Gains from currency conversion contributed four percentage points of the revenue growth.

The latest quarter was boosted by the acquisition of Global Imaging Systems, an office-equipment chain that sells to small businesses, during the second quarter of 2007. If Global Imaging had been part of Xerox for the full quarter in 2007, revenue would have risen 5% from the year-earlier period.

"It was a pretty solid quarter," said Shannon Cross of Cross Research. She said many commercial printers held back on buying digital presses because they wanted to compare offerings at the Drupa trade show in Germany in June. Xerox's sales of production equipment were down 7% world-wide.

Xerox unveiled six new printing systems at the show, and said it received 33% more orders than it anticipated. "Drupa was a huge success for us," the company's chief executive, Anne Mulcahy, said in a conference call with analysts. However, she said that many orders were for products that won't be available until the end of the third quarter.

Xerox's gross margin decreased 1.1 percentage points to 39.2%, and it said it expects margins to be between 39% and 40% for the full year. It blamed revenue weakness in the U.S., especially in sales of black ink. The U.S. sales weakness was offset by strong revenue growth from services and developing markets.

Xerox also reiterated its full-year earnings forecast of $1.26 to $1.30 a share. Ms. Mulcahy said Xerox doesn't anticipate a strong rebound in machine sales in the U.S., but was looking for solid revenue from service contracts, sales of ink and lease payments. She called these follow-on sales an "annuity-based business" that "is our driver of profitable growth."

In 4 p.m. composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Xerox shares fell 76 cents, or 5.4%, to $13.27.

By: William Bulkely
Wall Street Journal; July 25, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why Label Printers Are Good For Retail Businesses

Label printers are very useful for people who own their own shop or retail unit. When designing your own labels through an external agency, this can cost more than what you had originally intended to bargain for. This is why it is easier to design the labels yourself and invest in a label printer. These can help to transport the data onto a special machine, which prints the data onto self-adhesive paper that you can then use to label products and packages.

Label printers work very differently from normal printers, as these require a specific type of paper, which is self-adhesive, and they have a special feed mechanism to withstand large rolls of paper. They use two different types of technology, one of them is a direct thermal printing that is used in fax machines. These use heat sensitive paper, however, like some fax machines these can last from 6 months to a year. Once the labels have been printed, if exposed to direct sunlight they can fade away and have a shorter life. These are only useful for shipping operations and short term application.

Thermal transfer is another type of label printing which works by using ink from a ribbon to print onto the label for a permanent print. This can also be used on direct thermal printing. These are better for long-term usage. The different types of label printers available are desktop printers, commercial printers and industrial printers. The desktop printers use four-inch wide rolls, are relatively cheap and is used for light usage.

Commercial printers are used for medium volume usage and can hold up to eight-inches of roll. These are good to keep on sight for use on larger brands and products. Industrial printers are the most expensive of all label printers, as it holds much bigger rolls and are used for heavy-duty label making. These can be programmed to accommodate for printing on data that use different languages, roll size, permanent printing and in wide format.

Having your own label printer means, you can have it ready to use as and when you need it. When changing logos and designs often it can take up a lot of time to find a good place to have them printed. This will add to the cost of producing the labels, whereas, the only added cost of owning a label printer is maintenance or replacement. This does depend on the kind of printer you buy, which should always have a manufacturers guarantee.

In short these little boxes are good for staying on top of all of your marketing needs, no matter how big or small your company may be. These will also save businesses money so there would be no need to go to external agencies for their services.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Inkjet Printers Get Set to Turn the Page

Has Xerox lost the battle?
New Technology Battle Xerox In Commercial Jobs

Inkjet-printing technology that dominates inexpensive desktop printers is about to enter the world of commercial print shops. If the new technology succeeds, it could spell trouble for Xerox Corp. and lead to expanded business for Eastman Kodak Co., Hewlett-Packard Co., Ricoh Co. and other inkjet makers.

The world's printing industry gather Thursday at the Drupa trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany, where a host of companies are showing new inkjet presses touted as the wave of the future. Giant offset presses, which cost several million dollars apiece, dominate the $400 billion-a-year printing business. But inkjet and laser technologies are nibbling at market. The new presses challenge Xerox, which laser-technology iGen3 and Docutech presses account for more than half of all digitally produced pages world-wide.

These inkjet presses, costing as much as $2.5 million apiece, are more expensive than the $500,000 Xerox machines but cost less per page to operate. Inkjet machines produce a page for a penny, versus about four cents for the laser technology used by Xerox. As with desktop printers, the digital-printer makers expect to earn the bulk of their profits by selling ink.

Inkjet makers said their technology makes digital printing competitive in price and quality with offset printing, which produces 95% of all printed pages world-wide. Digital presses account for only 2% of offset pages, or $8 billion annually. That share is expected to triple in the next three to four years as quality and speed improve. With digital printing, every page can be different. That can mean customized textbooks for each professor's class, beautiful brochure printing national magazines with local restaurant ads or glossy calendar printing with color pictures and elaborate catalog printing with detailed photographs of your business' products.

Matthew Troy, a Citigroup Inc. analyst, cautions digital printing won't supplant offset as fast as digital photography replaced film. But he said the move to digital printing provides a significant growth opportunity, especially for Kodak, of Rochester, N.Y.

Kodak has been building a printing-equipment business for the past four years by buying smaller companies. At Drupa, it will demonstrate its Stream inkjet technology, which will be available as a fully functioning press in 2010. Kodak said Stream can print at a speed of 500 feet a minute, about half the speed of traditional offset. Analysts who have been given advance looks at Stream's output said its quality fits glossy clothing catalogs, opening a potential new market for custom catalogs. Kevin Joyce, chief marketing officer for Kodak's graphiccommunications group, said Stream will produce "offsetclass output" in terms of price, reliability and appearance.

H-P, of Palo Alto, Calif., will show its Injet Color Web Press, which prints at 400 feet a minute and will be available for sale next year. Analysts sais the $2.5 million price tag is lower than they expected for its speed. H-P's laser-driven Indigo press already is used by printers for specialty jobs, and a new version will nearly match the speed of Xerox's iGen3.

Japan's Ricoh moved into the production arena last year when it reached a deal to buy the InfoPrint unit of International Business machine Corp. InfoPrint's $2 million inkjet printer went on the market in February.

Xerox President Ursula Burn s dismisses inkjet technology as suited "for relatively low-quality, high-throughout documents." Ms. Burns said she is confident commercial printers will keep buying Xerox's iGen laser presses for prducts like personal photo books and directmail adverstisements. She said Xerox, of Stamford, Conn., is unveiling a new iGen4 printer that will increase quality and productivity for commercial printers.

By: William M. Bulkeley
Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fujifilm: The Inkjet Company

 JetPress 720Fujifilm Japan has announced a breakthrough technology digital sheet fed inkjet printing press aimed at the commercial printing market. This press that is currently called the JetPress 720 images at 1,200 dpi with 4 gray levels on a sheet up to 720 x 520 mm (28.35 x 20.47 ins) in size. This is twice the size of any other sheetfed digital color press allowing up to four A4 pages in one pass in four colours. Fujifilm claim that the 1,200 dpi with 4 gray levels will give offset quality of printing. This is a higher resolution than all the new inkjet continuous feed presses being launched at drupa. The speed of the press is stated to be 2,700 B2 format sheets per hour. This works out at 180 A4 sheets/minute. The new inkjet printhead technology was developed by FUJIFILM Dimatix (FDMX) a leading company for industrial inkjet printheads, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujifilm. The wide printhead with a print width of 720mm was newly developed incorporating high density, long-life piezoelectric element arrays with high precision and can print high resolution images using single-pass inkjet technology at the high speed of approx. 180 sheets (A4 size equivalent) per minute.’

I see this as a very important announcement as it shows that Fujifilm is really moving its business into inkjet based digital printing. As a company it has invested heavily in the acquisition of inkjet technologies and companies including Sericol and Dimatix, but up to now has not manufactured any inkjet printing equipment. As a company it is already a major player in digital printing with its 75% ownership of Fuji Xerox. It is interesting to note that Fuji Xerox was involved in the development of this press. The press fits into a unique space in the market where there are no equivalent presses. This is as a sheet fed digital press of B2 format. Up to now the largest format sheet fed digital press has been the Xerox iGen3 with a maximum sheet size of 14.33 x 20.5 inches. It has always surprised me that no supplier has introduced a wider format digital press. I have predicted that perhaps Kodak Nexpress, Océ or Xeikon with their experience in building LED imaging arrays would produce a 20 inch wide sheet fed press, but nothing every happened. Assuming the quality of output and the pricing are acceptable I think that there will be a major opportunity for the new Fujifilm press.

The fact that Fuji Xerox has developed this press poses some interesting questions about how this product will go to market. Will it be sold through the Fuji Xerox channels alongside the Xerox iGen3 and Docucolor products or will it be sold through Fujifilm’s graphic arts channels, many of which already sell Xerox products. There is also the question of how this affects Xerox and whether they will handle the product. Xerox has stated that it will be outlining some of its developments in inkjet printing at drupa, but I know that this is not one of them.

The move by Fujifilm into manufacturing its own inkjet equipment as well as supplying consumables such as ink and print heads to other developers confirms the company’s move to be a major force in the future of inkjet printing. The other major film companies have already moved into this area. Agfa has been working with inkjet technology for many years and is now supplying ink as well as printers. Kodak has been a key player for a long time with its Versamark high-speed transactional printers and to a lesser extent with its Encad wide format products. It is now moving ahead with the development of its next generation STREAM continuous inkjet technology and this will be demonstrated in the STREAM Concept press at drupa.

Fujifilm already sells a number of wide format and UV flatbed printers through its Sericol operation. This operation has the exclusive distribution of the Dainippon Screen owned Inca flatbed printers. Fujifilm has very close working arrangements with Dainippon Screen in distribution of its thermal CtP engines. Dainippon Screen however is also establishing itself as a major player in the inkjet business with both high-speed and wide format printers. On must wonder if there is the possibility of further consolidation between these two companies in the inkjet area.

I will certainly be looking at the new Fujifilm sheet fed inkjet press at drupa. I first heard rumors of an inkjet press development within Fujifilm more than two years ago before the company had acquired Sericol or Dimatix. The company appears to have identified a unique market slot with a B2 format press and I predict this will be one of the hottest new products at drupa. I also predict that Fujifilm will be seen in future as one of the key players in the inkjet printing business alongside HP and Kodak.

By: Andy Tribute
whattheythink.com; May 27th, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

HP rolls out largest printing products offerings

Shanghai, Apr 22 Hewlett-Packard, the largest technology and solutions provider across the globe, has rolled out 25 new-generation printing products and solutions; the company’s largest single offering to date. Comprising of printers, software, and web-based resources, these offerings are aimed at small and medium businesses (SMB’s). The new offerings were announced recently in Shanghai, China, at an event titled, “Business Go Print 2.0,” organized by the company for media persons from the Asia-Pacific region and Japan. The new offerings include two HP LaserJet multifunction printers (MFP’s), an enterprise class scanner for document capture and 3 specialized industry solutions.

Herbert Koeck, H-P vice-president (commercial printing), Asia-Pacific told FE, “These products will enable our SMB customers to have a level playing field against larger-sized competitors by improving their marketing effectiveness, increase productivity, and reduce costs involved in their printing needs.” The roll-out includes first time offerings like Colorsphere, the company’s patented ‘chemically grown’ toner technology that was hitherto found only in H-P’s higher-end printers, across all their color laser printers, including the entry-level ones.

For an SMB customer, this provides access to professional quality prints at a much lower cost. HP has also come out with its first LED (light emitting diodes)-based scanner, moving away from the traditional halogen bulb. LED technology uses much less power and are ever-ready for use, eliminating the waiting time that the halogen bulb-based scanners need. The SMB printing space (including hardware, supplies, and services) has tremendous opportunity for HP’s imaging and printing group valued at $103 billion globally by 2010

Bruce Dahlgren, senior vice president, global enterprise business, imaging and printing group, HP said, “ With all the economic challenges in the world today, customers are looking at printing no longer as an afterthought, but as a strategic opportunity to cut costs. Meanwhile, they recognize that this economic challenge won’t last forever, so the focus is also on how they can optimize and leverage their infrastructure.”

Shaheen Mansuri
Financial Express.com; Posted online: Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Personalized Printing Advice and Takeaways

Personalized printing with variable data and personal URLs is getting more and more popular, especially since the prices are coming down and the quality is going up.

As a result, we thought it would make for a good post today to recap an article that was in the DM News not too long ago called “Get Personal With Print Marketing”.

Four experts were asked for their advice on how to take advantage of personalized print marketing. What follows is a quick summary of all four.

1. John Foley’s Takeaway

Maintain a customized print conversation with your customers. Mr. Foley talks about integrated marketing and how effective it can be to set up a campaign that includes a personalized mailer, personal URLs and then a follow up mailer based on how they answered certain questions on the PURL.

2. Chris Ryan’s Takeaway

The right trigger techniques make for highly effective personalization programs. Mr. Ryan talks about using time-sensitive “trigger” mailings that coincide with specific periods in a person’s life. For example, sending home-related coupons to new homeowners, or sending an investment-related mailer to a newly retired couple.

3. John Berger’s Takeaway

Successful personalization relies on information used responsibly by marketers. Mr. Berger stresses the importance of marketers protecting the privacy of their customers. He says you want to use the information you collect on them to personalize your offers, but not so much so that the customer feels their privacy has been violated.

4. Anna Chagnon’s Takeaway

More marketers are integrating software with production work flow systems. Ms. Chagnon points out how variable data software makes personalization easier. You create one template if you wish for your mailers and all your campaigns are fueled by this one shell. She also mentions the growing popularity of Web-to-print storefronts.

5. Ballantine’s Takeaway

We think certain industries are prime candidates for personalized variable data printing and should definitely consider creating a test campaign if budgets allow. These industries - to name a few - include retail, hospitality and auto.

These types of industries generally collect a great deal of information about their customers and can thus personalize their mailings with pinpoint accuracy. And they also thrive on customer relationship-building…which relevant offers help cultivate.

We have one retail client that holds regular events with various “themes”. We send out weekly variable data self-mailers for them and the images on the mail piece correspond with the event that the customer attended.

The mailings are wildly successful for them.

*As published on The Ballantine Blog on April 17th, 2008

Wasteful printing starts at work

I admit it. I'm guilty of one of the most common office crimes out there -- hitting the print button more times than necessary.

And although I may be easing some of my guilt by throwing the paper in the recycle bin, I still have visions of chainsaws cutting down trees in some beautiful remote forest flashing through my head each time I toss a sheet away.

There is just something so comforting about having a document in physical paper form as opposed to just floating around in your e-mail inbox. Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but it gives me a sense of organization having everything printed and placed in folders where I can see them.

And then there's that sense of control. You can't file a computerized document or flip through it or highlight and write notes on it. And what if your computer crashes and you lose everything? You always have that dependable stack of paper neatly organized in a folder waiting for you to peruse.

I have learned I am not alone in my obsession with paper. In fact, some are worse than me.

Canadians are printing out 30 pages of documents a day and then promptly discarding nearly four out of 10 of those pages, according to a survey released last week by Leger Marketing and recently covered in the National Post.

This habit of waste and needless consumption seems to only apply to the workplace with 40 per cent reporting they were more environmentally conscious of recycling at home than at work. I can understand that. I don't even remember the last time I used the printer at home.

At the very least, these printer-happy people are experiencing the same sense of guilt as I am over their behavior. The survey found that this habit induced feelings of guilt in almost a third of respondents and more than three-quarters said they're concerned about the impact their paper-printing ways are having on the environment.

So why can't we stop?

It's because right now it's still socially acceptable. We can freely print off copy after copy with only our inner guilt to absorb. There needs to be more public pressure.

I remember in elementary school we were told to turn the tap off when we weren't using it and that wasting water was wrong. Today, letting the tap run while you brush your teeth is considered a sin.

The same type of public campaign has also pegged people who leave unnecessary lights on as wasteful. You wouldn't dare leave all the lights on in your home if you weren't there. What would the neighbors think? And companies know leaving the lights on in their office buildings overnight will almost guarantee public complaints. Being careless when it comes to conserving energy is officially frowned upon.

The same type of widespread disapproval needs to be applied to unnecessary printing of paper.

It has started to happen.

Some people now attach a signature at the bottom of their e-mails that reads "please don't print this e-mail unless it is absolutely necessary" accompanied by an image of a tree. Although that does get to me, it's obviously not enough, since I sometimes just swallow the guilt and print those e-mails, too.

We need to take it a step further. Every time you make a trip to the printer to pick up a 30-page document, you should expect to possibly endure dirty looks from your co-workers. The idea of printing excess paper should become so objectionable that you feel immediate shame and embarrassment if someone were to see the piles of it sitting on your desk.

This coming Earth Day, I plan to make a resolution to fight the urge to print and only succumb when truly necessary. If you are like me, I would encourage you to do the same. If you aren't like me, then I suggest you do your part by shunning your paper-wasting co-workers.

Or if you find that to be a little harsh perhaps just kindly mention they should think twice before hitting the print button.

Deirdre Healey is a local writer and communications specialist. Her column appears every other Thursday.

Originally published at http://news.guelphmercury.com by Deirdre Healey; April 17, 2008

Your Business Card is a Powerful Marketing Tool

WESTFIELD, N.J., -- A few years back, the standard business card had basic contact information printed in one color, usually black, on one side of plain vanilla paper stock, sometimes with two-color printing to kick it up a bit. Today you can easily print on both
sides of a BC in four-color process with a laminated, glossy finish. In regard to cost, it's about fifty dollars for 500 cards. This is a fraction of what it cost a few years ago. Now that's a bargain.

"BCs are becoming mini-brochures that can make a colorful impression. The second side can be just the logo if you are after an "I am very cool" effect, or you could print a mission statement if you want people to know what you stand for, and, at the very least, a short list of special things your company does. Whatever way you chose, you can captivate interest and provoke discussion. This is a great little marketing tool," according to John Howlett President of AvizaGroup an ROI consulting business specializing in advertising and marketing.

After you have grabbed their attention and jump started a conversation, you can deliver your elevator pitch, which is a salespersons dream. In the most optimistic view it might even circumvent the dreaded statement that ever business salesperson fears: "I didn't know your company does that".

The BC may appear to be a rather insignificant item. It is not. Especially if you believe first impressions are lasting impressions. Some people reading this article might say "give me a break, a business card as a marketing tool?" Think about how many times you found a BC, a month or more later, and had absolutely no recollection of who they are and what they do. How unfortunate for the person who handed you their card. They
missed the opportunity to leave a memorable message in a potential prospect's hand and mind.

Millions of dollars are spent every day to establish brand recognition in advertising, in pursuit of building a positive, memorable recall about your company, product or service. Want to improve your ROI in advertising? Take a good look at your not-so-silly little business card. You can start by re-thinking about it as a powerful marketing tool.

PRNewswire; April 17

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Printing Brochures and Postcards

If you are looking for an extremely powerful marketing tool look no further because brochures and postcards are considered the best way to maximize the impact of your messages. Brochures and postcards are used most frequently as a form of print communications medium.

When advertising with a full color information booklet you require a big budget. Not so with printing brochures and postcards. They have the same advertising affect but at a much lower cost. There are certain features you should be aware of for brochure and postcard printing before making your final decision.

There is a lot of versatility with brochures and postcards in both content and use. By changing the format they can be used as a booklet or a poster. Always remember that it is vital to make a powerful and lasting first impression.

Preparing the design is the first step in the printing process. The purpose of the brochure or postcard is to define why your product is better than others and by using this printing method you can accomplish that goal without lengthy, monotonous texts. Put emphasis on the unique and significant features of your product with crisp dialogue and captivating language.

Be sure to choose fonts and colors that look attractive and professional. What looks great on your monitor or the proof could be totally different from the completed printed copy due to the inherent limitations of the commercial printing processes. Your printer is a professional in this field with usually many years of experience. Be sure to have a consultation before finalizing the color scheme.

Of late, digital printing has solved many such problems associated with brochure and postcard printing. Now, you almost get the color you see on the monitor with much more versatile options. Another great advantage of digital printing is you can customize your brochures and postcards according to your needs.

The paper and any other material you select will depend on your requirements. If you are sending brochures and postcards by post the weight of the paper should not be too heavy. When speaking with your sales representative, always ask about the paper quality for your brochure or postcard. Using a thick, coated paper that is great for personalized business presentations can produce a more vibrant look and feel, for your brochure and postcard.

Using commercial printing processes like offset lithography will enable the printer to deliver a quality product when printing the brochure and postcard. Ask to see samples from the printer and check their references too. Post-finishing operations like varnishing or lamination would be an important process for adding the finishing touches to the printing of brochures and postcards.

Owing to the tough competition, the cost of printing is getting lower everyday. Find the right combination of design and print that fit your budget and can give you the best value for your money.

Originally published by: Jacques Di Salvia