If you manage or work in a busy marketing department you likely know these scenarios.
- I need you to stop what you’re doing and design this custom (sales sheet, billboard, poster, print ad etc.).
- For some reason everyone’s business card looks different than your identity standards.
- Someone from sales just printed the old brochure design from 3 years ago instead of the new one
So how did things get so out of control? Thankfully there is a solution to gain back control of your time and your corporate identity. A web based ordering solution will address all of these scenarios and more. So how does it work? The web portal is how those you authorize will procure your companies marketing materials. It will contain products you authorize and templates that can be edited only as you have specified.
Product access is controlled by you. Some users are only able to access certain products while others you allow to access more or all. You control who can order what and how much customization they can have. You control which trusted vendors will produce which products.
You are removed from the proofing process because proofs happen in real time on the site based on your template rules. Order history is maintained in the system allowing you to track usage and see trends. Does this sound like a tool that can put you back in control of your company’s brand?
If you are looking for solutions to regain control of your brand and free up your design resources feel free to contact me any time for advice or to discuss your specific challenges.
Until next time!
To Your Success!
I am sure many of you receive online statements from credit card companies, banks, utility companies and more. You also get lots of direct mail or “junk mail” advertisements just as I do. How often do you see companies touting “green” initiatives as their reason for pushing us to online statements and email communication?
I sure want to do my part to protect the environment and save the earth. I recycle, reuse, bike and walk when possible. I teach my children to do the same and why it is important. So, in our collective rush to do the right thing might we be getting misinformation? Might we be making poorly informed choices?
As a marketing consultant helping my clients navigate the myriad of options available, I am often asked about social media, email, mobile marketing and more. I make recommendations based on my clients goals and use all of these when and where appropriate and effective. Print, paper and mail though seem to now have a stigma as being synonymous with polluting the earth. This is due in part to companies, trying to reduce their costs, pushing us to email and the web. They do this by making us feel we are harming the earth by choosing paper and print.
“Please consider the environment before printing this email”. “Save a tree and go paperless with e-statments”. There are many more examples I am sure you can think of and they all have one common theme: Paper and print are bad for the environment. Well I am here to say ENOUGH of this misinformation. Lets get down to the TRUTH.
Regarding Paper, Did You Know?:
- The paper industry plants 3 times as many trees as it cuts. There are more forests in the US today than 20 years ago.
- Forestry is the most sustainable of all primary industries that provide energy and materials.
- 11% of the world’s forests are used for paper, with the majority of wood fiber used to produce paper coming from waste products like wood chips, sawmill scraps and recycled paper.
Dr. Patrick Moore early member at founding of Greenpeace stated “To address climate change we must use more wood not less. Using wood sends signals to the marketplace to GROW MORE TREES!” From an environmental perspective the paper industry is a model for all others. The print industry too is following suite.
Regarding Print & Mail, Did You Know?
- The U.S. print industry generates more than $100 billion in annual revenue and provides U.S. jobs for more than 100 million Americans. That is bigger than the US auto Industry we bailed out recently.
- Print and mail drive commerce, provide jobs and educate our youth.
- Studies show you’ll read printed information up to 30% faster while retaining more information than reading on a screen.
Now that you have heard the truth all I ask is this: Please don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for using paper or print to communicate with your customers, coworkers, friends or family. It is still the best option in many cases and is environmentally and socially responsible.
Please pass this information along and do your part to save the environment and spur the economy.
For more info on environmental responsibility of the print and paper industry please check out these links…chooseprint.org Video paperbecause.com acculink.com/greenInitiative
Until next time!
To Your Success!
With a multitude of online print companies to choose from, for ordering a variety of print items, through a desktop order interface, many have said the days of the print CSR (customer service rep) are numbered. Many of these online companies provide only email or IM support. The products they offer have become standardized and commoditized. After all, where is the value in paying for real person to person interaction. Wouldn’t we all be better off just choosing from what these companies offer us and accepting that we likely payed the lowest price possible for our business cards, brochures, postcards etc.? What do you think?
The company I represent builds and hosts web based print order storefronts. Clients appreciate the ease of ordering that they bring. The benefits are many and problems are few when used appropriately. Our storefront offering is actually fully customizable unlike the standard web printer which restricts you to set paper stocks, sizes and finishing options. When used for appropriate applications this automation can be the best way to order print. So what is the problem?
Technology will continue to create efficiencies but the needs of most clients will continue to fall outside the parameters of a fully automated workflow. Most will want to work with experienced knowledgeable people to help create the channels and products to communicate their message and stand out from their competition. I don’t know of many visionary business people that are happy to always settle for Choice A, B or C.
Automated online workflows are perfect for repetitive jobs with set variables and predefined spec options however most of my client’s jobs/projects introduce some new variable not accounted for in that pre-built workflow. I’m not talking about business cards, letterhead & envelopes. I’m referring to:
*Multi-component products that include multiple operations and involve a complex dance of scheduling to meet deadlines.
*Complex cross media marketing campaigns with many moving parts, schedules and components that can change while in progress.
*Clients that demand something different resulting in material or process changes that affect workflow and scheduling.
I believe that automated workflows will continue to create efficiencies but we are far off from eliminating the CSR from the equation. Our clients (even those with online order systems we created) count on our CSRs every day to masterfully handle the unanticipated changes caused by, changing needs, equipment, material availability and more. The CSR is able to somehow perform a dance that makes it all work out more often than not and make us shine as a company in the eyes of our clients. Until we can build that into an automated workflow we better keep in mind that businesses are made up of people. Technology is a tool. A tool without people is really just an obstacle to our goals.
Until next time…
To Your Success!
Challenge: A nationwide auto parts retail franchisor identified wasteful inefficiencies in its attempts to supply franchisees with up to date business cards, stationery and promotional printed material from its in-house printing facility and business card vendor. The franchisor wanted to turn the money losing operation into a profit center where all expenses and revenues could be accounted for.
Solution: AccuLink designed a web based e-commerce system where business cards are created, proofed, ordered and paid for on-line by individual franchisees. Each order results in a commission payment back to the franchisor as well as an accounting trail of the charge card transaction. Other corporate identification items (stationery) and marketing materials (flyers, brochures and POP displays) are included on the ordering site in pre-approved templates so franchisees can customize according to their individual locations under the confines of the franchisor’s marketing guidelines. Again all pricing is predetermined by the home office and revenues are accounted for and managed by the e-commerce system designed by AccuLink.
Result: Problems with inconsistent quality have been eliminated. Delivery time on critical promotional materials has been reduced from weeks to next day service on most items. Unaccounted costs and wasteful overhead has been replaced by detailed monthly activity summaries, instant secure charge card payments and profitable royalty payments on every order.
Are you struggling with supply chain and distribution issues? Share your story here. I love a challenge!
Until next time…
To Your Success!