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ISS Blog

Jeff Schwarz

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Posted by on in ISS Blog Articles

Happy holidays and thank you for a wonderful 2013! 

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It is hard to believe that the end of 2013 is upon us.  As we hurtle into the heart of the holiday season it gives me time to reflect on the past year and my hopes for 2014.

2013 was a great year for us at ISS, and it’s all thanks to our fabulous customers, our hard working employees and our accommodating vendors. One of the many rewards of being in this business is the direct connection from our hard work to our customers’ results. While we are printing newsletters, folding brochures and mailing out annual appeal letters, we are actually helping schools connect with alumni, businesses announce new products and non-profits raise money. It is truly special to look back and see the results that our customers have achieved.

Now that the year is winding down, I’m looking forward to spending time with family and friends. In fact, this year I’ve already enjoyed some fun time with my eleven month old grandson, Wes, who has been visiting ISS this December. He has found the most amazing things to play with right in my office. This of course, requires him to pull files off my shelf and onto the floor so that he can inspect it more closely.  One can hardly tell he was at the office!!!  However, his playing around has allowed me to smile a bit more at what he finds amusing, and he is finding plenty of things that I now realize I no longer need.

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So that leads me back to business.  As we near the end of one year and the start of a new one, we are examining some of the old “things” we have in the business and looking ahead to 2014. We are planning new projects, updating procedures, and reviewing processes all in an effort to provide the absolute best service to our customers. It is exciting to think about launching into 2014 ready to help our customers achieve even better results.

SO, thank you all for a wonderful 2013 and together let’s make 2014 even better!! 

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Tagged in: Print services
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Posted by on in ISS Blog Articles

B2B - Back2Business

While it’s sad to say goodbye to summer and school vacation is over, here at ISS we are happy to be getting back to business! Early fall is full of excitement for the new school year and there’s an energy in the air as if we’ve been recharged by the summer.

It’s always fun for us to see what our local business customers have been busy planning. Sometimes it’s a complete marketing overhaul and other times it’s just a buff up, but we can tell that our customers have been busy thinking about their brands. As a printer, we get very excited to see all the new logos, new colors, new product announcements and new trade show collateral – which is the result of hours of hard work by our customers.

We are also busy printing for several local schools. It’s great to see the new yearbooks for high school sports teams and read the latest announcements in the school newsletters. We are probably more aware of the different activities going on around the area than many parents, and we really enjoy getting to know the different groups and the great programs they run.

There’s definitely a sense of mutual excitement when a longtime customer comes back from the summer with a fantastic new product launch or a school group has a creative new fundraiser and we get to help them announce it to the world.

So bring on the fall. Let’s get back to business!

 

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In this digital age, it may seem counterintuitive to talk about using ‘snail mail’ to get your message to your customers, but printing postcards is still an effective marketing tool. Regardless of what we think about the post office, they are very, very good at getting mail delivered to the addressee. Plus, if they get it wrong and you let them know, then they will re-deliver it correctly for no additional charge!

Recently, the post office introduced a service called Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM).

  1. EDDM has several remarkable features:
  2. A 65% reduction on postage;
  3.  No names or addresses required;
  4. Oversized postcards allowed;
  5. As easy as dropping a letter at your own post office.

Let’s look at these features individually.

The postage rate for EDDM is only $0.16 versus $0.46 for 1st class mail. That savings means you can send your message to almost three times as many people for the same postage costs! Obtaining this rate requires NO postage permit or additional fees either. A generic “EDDM RETAIL” indicia is all that is needed for the “stamp”.

Previously, if you were going to send a large mailing, you would have to fret about names and addresses. How current is your list? Has it been put thru the appropriate postal checks? No more!! With EDDM, simply addressing your postcard to “Local Postal Customer” is all that is required.

In the old days (last year!) in order to obtain the lowest postage rate you needed to keep the piece to 4” X 6” – which isn’t much space to say all the wonderful things you want to say. Now, with EDDM, the post office actually requires you to make the piece BIGGER – up to 12” X 15”. In fact, the typical piece is roughly 6” X 12”.

Every Door Direct MailDetermining where to send your mail piece is just a click away. The routes you pick for EDDM are all on the web. You simply log-in and type either a zip code or address that you want to mail to. You are then able to interactively click on roads to see the route and then self-determine which routes to mail to. The service will show you the streets and the counts for each route. You have to mail to an entire route, but NOT the whole town. Additionally, you can mail to any town with a post office. (Try the tool now)

Direct mail still has a large impact on sales results. An article in The Wall Street Journal (click here) documented several companies that cut back in their direct mail only to see sales decline over 25% and then bounce right back higher once the direct mail campaigns were restarted!

Direct mail is still a powerful marketing tool for all businesses and now with EDDM getting your message delivered is cheaper and easier than ever.

Links:

WSJ article 
EDDM

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b2ap3_thumbnail_iss-website2.jpgIt’s 2013. Everything and everyone is online. The Internet is where we tend to go first for information these days. Previously, the biggest barriers to building a web presence were the high cost of entry, and the technological knowledge needed to build and maintain a site. But today, those are no longer barriers. You can still spend a lot of money on a really nice website, but many small business can’t afford an expensive website. With platforms like WordPress or Joomla the cost of entry can be much lower. These platforms also allow you to update the content yourself – a cost-effective and timely approach to keeping it fresh and relevant for visitors.

For ISS, we recently updated our website using a Joomla platform and thought we would share some information about the power of websites in your marketing mix.

Why are websites so important?

1. It’s your primary avenue for providing information about your business – Be found by customers searching for your product or service. Provide easy access to your hours, your location, how to reach you, your products and services. Even a simple site with basic information can be a big help in providing people with the information they need to make informed decisions.

2. It’s your digital storefront – You might have a brick and mortar storefront, but many people aren’t going to find out about you as a result of your physical presence. As we spend more time online researching products and businesses, your website is very likely the first impression people get of you and your business. Being accessible 24/7 allows you to conduct business when it’s convenient for your potential or current customer. Additionally, a properly implemented e-commerce solution can allow you to sell your products online and reach a greater audience.

3. It’s the place where you can explain what sets you apart – Use the website to set you apart from your competitors and give people a reason to choose you. This could be price, quality, excellent customer service, or some other combination of factors. Your website is a great place to exhibit the areas where you excel so that your prospective customers can make an informed decision.

4. It’s your online traffic hub – As you build a strong online presence, your social properties and links should all be pointed to your website. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and any other properties you have should be driving traffic to your site. And conversely, your site is great for pointing people to your various social sites.

5. It’s the one online property that you own – Many businesses have decided that their online presence will consist of a Facebook page, and perhaps some other social properties. But it’s important to know that you don’t own your Facebook page. A website is yours; you own it.

6. It’s how Google knows you exist – Your Facebook business page and some social properties are indexable by Google and the other search engines, but the best way to make sure you show up in search results is to have a website. Without a website, the only things that might show up for you are review sites and directory sites. If you don’t show up on Google, and your competitors do, guess who will get the business.Also if you’re going to blog, it should reside on your website - why not draw that traffic to your website and reap the SEO benefits

7. It can move you from local to global – A professionally designed website will give your business added credibility and visibility. A website can bring you customers from around the world, particularly if you have an online store. With minimal expense, you can increase the size of your potential market greatly. Your website should reflect your branding and match your other marketing materials so you have a cohesive look and feel. So don’t redesign the wheel – make sure your design has a consistent look to your other marketing tools – using the same colors, photos and message.

Save your valuable marketing budget by utilizing a website to the fullest.  Websites allow almost unlimited information about your company – you are not constrained by size such as in print advertising or a radio spot. If you don’t have a website, now is the time to seriously consider what it takes to get one. And if you already have one, now’s a good time to look it over and make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Use it to your advantage by attracting visits with useful and timely information - give people a reason to come back.

If you would like to discuss creating or updating your website – we can help! Give us a call at 978-425-3600 or shoot us an email: jeff@issondemand.com

 

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Direct Mail

From one of the largest on-line advertisers in the world comes a printed and mailed direct mail campaign. Direct Mail

Why? Because it works. We print direct mailers almost every day for our clients. Here are just a few reasons they use direct mail:

  1. Direct mail allows you to reach your target market directly. Mailing lists can be filtered by location, company size and industry ensuring your message reaches exactly who you want to reach.
  2. Great visibility – postcards are tangible, they can be shared, and they can’t be caught by a Spam filter.  Website content and emails can’t compete with the tactile appeal of a direct mail piece.
  3. Promotions, exclusive offers and expiration dates motivate people to act. Direct mail can be used with the same target audience multiple times throughout the year. Seasonal sales, one time clearance events, and new product offerings can all be highlighted with timely direct mail campaigns.
  4. You can create customized messages. By combining a single main message with tailored content you can deliver your message with more impact to different customer groups including your best customers, lapsed customers, even new prospects.
  5. There is something magical about seeing your name in print. When a name is cleverly incorporated into a mail piece, the result can be increased sales. Personalization techniques can include working the recipient’s name into a headline, or calling attention to products he or she has previously purchased. There was a time when personalization was so expensive that it could cripple your ROI. But today’s technology has made print personalization easier and more affordable.
  6. Its effective. A recent ExactTarget study conducted by Ball State University revealed that while e-mail plays a vital role in marketing communications, direct mail is still a dominant, prominent purchase driver for different types of customers. In some cases, 70% to 90% of survey respondents made a purchase based on receiving direct mail — for all age groups.

Contact us to learn more about our direct mail services and how we can help you reach more customers.

 

Here’s an article from the Wall Street Journal that also supports use of direct mail.

Firms Hold Fast to Snail Mail Marketing Despite Prevalence of Digital Media, Entrepreneurs Find Old Fashioned Direct Mailings Still Key to Winning Customers

By TERI EVANS, WSJ

Looking to cut costs amid the recession, Alicia Settle initially thought it would be a good idea to eliminate her company’s annual direct mailing. Spending about $20,000 on the personally signed letters, which offered customers a discount on early orders, seemed indulgent for Per Annum Inc., which sells city diaries, albums, and planners in the struggling corporate gift market. But after swapping snail mail for email last year, Ms. Settle saw a 25% drop in early orders compared with the same period the previous year.

“We realized we had made a huge mistake,” says Ms. Settle, president of the New York firm. The affordability of e-marketing, along with the explosion of social media and the desire to trim costs in the recession, has prompted many small companies like Per Annum to slash traditional direct-mail budgets. U.S. consumers received about 5.2 billion pieces of direct mail in the third quarter of 2009, a 27% decline compared with 7.1 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to Mintel Comperemedia, a research firm that tracks direct-mail marketing.

However, some entrepreneurs who were quick to write off direct mail as too pricey or passé are finding it’s not so easy to dismiss.

Ms. Settle says that at first she blamed the economy for the dropoff, until she “started hearing from customers that they never got their ‘reminder’ in the mail.” Ms. Settle quickly sent a postcard mailing in June, which recouped the 25% loss, she says.

Costs are still taken into account. Many entrepreneurs find that the boiler-plate methods of the past—such as purchasing mailing lists and sending fliers or coupons to a mass audience—often aren’t cost-effective. Instead, business owners are creating personalized mailings, which may include special offers or other valuable information, and sending them to a hand-picked list of current and prospective customers.

The idea is to send something that’s more appealing than “junk” mail and potentially more noticeable than an email message, says Eric Anderson, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. That allows business owners “to offer a personal touch the larger firms may not be able to have,” he says.

To save money, Peter Taffae, founder of ExecutivePerils, a Los Angeles wholesale insurance broker, stopped his small firm’s humorous postcard mailings last year. The colorful marketing pieces showcase the insurance broker’s offerings through satirical movie themes, such as “Full Metal Policy,” a parody of “Full Metal Jacket” and “Singin’ in the Renewal,” from the classic film “Singin’ in the Rain.” About 2,000 current and potential clients received the postcards, which cost the company $4,000 to send out every four to six weeks.

Customers complained when ExecutivePerils dropped its humorous postcards. “We would visit some clients and notice they were hanging the postcards on the wall, collecting them,” says Mr. Taffae, who says he secured $270,000 from a new client who chose to do business with the firm in late 2008 after receiving the postcards.

“After two or three months [of no postcards], we got a lot of emails and phone calls asking us, ‘Did you take me off your list?’ I figured if even 1% complained, then a much larger percentage were thinking about it,” says Mr. Taffae, who restarted the postcard mailings in November.

William Kapas, president of J.C. Kapas Real Estate Co. in Rochelle Park, N.J., says he has secured clients as a result of his high-gloss, four-color monthly mailings that list who has bought or sold restaurant properties though the firm.

“Our clients look forward to knowing, and it’s a little bit of gossip, too,” says Mr. Kapas, who exclusively uses traditional mail to reach clients. “I think it’s easier to delete the electronic junk mail without taking a second look.”

Mr. Kapas spends about $1 a piece for the monthly mailings, sent to about 2,200 current and prospective customers.

Prof. Anderson says other business owners are trying to figure out how to integrate Web marketing—such as email campaigns, banner ads and social-networking sites—with direct mail. “The introduction of new media has forced [business owners] to go back and revisit the whole playbook on what’s the best way to communicate with customers,” Mr. Anderson says.

Ms. Settle, for instance, plans to use e-marketing to complement the hand-signed direct-mail piece, not replace it.

Meanwhile, Mr. Taffae is starting to take his satirical marketing approach to YouTube; he’s created a parody of F Troop, the 1960s sitcom, to promote his firm online.

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Color

colorWe love color. It’s exciting – and fun to work with but if you’re a novice at creating marketing materials all the color jargon may be hard to figure out. If you’ve been around designers or printers at all, you’ve likely heard conversation around CMYK, RGB and PMS. What does that all mean – especially that PMS one… Here is some information for you to make complex color theories easier…

 

CMYK – this stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The four colors used in the printing process. If you were reading this piece in a printed magazine, you would be reading it in a CMYK color space. In “four-color process” (CMYK) printing, primary colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) are mixed together to produce most of the colors that you see in  magazines and color books.  CYMK is what the vast majority of commercial printers do but isn’t always color accurate and colors may deviate from job to job.

 

PMS – this stands for Pantone Matching System. This is a way to select a very certain color and ensure its consistency throughout your printed piece or from print job to print job. These specific color formulas will reproduce accurately in print. Instead of simulating colors by combining primary colors, spot (PMS) colors are pre-mixed with existing and published color formulas.  “Spot” colors refer to the actual printing process by which they are applied. Some PMS colors are not reproducible using CMYK so if exact color is a must – PMS is the only way to go.

It is possible to have spot colors that actually have no color to them at all. Spot varnishes are glossy or dull varnishes applied to specific areas in a printed piece to achieve specific results. A quick tidbit, Coca Cola as an example will never EVER print its brand coca cola red in CMYK in any of its packaging, because they want to always have that pure bold red.

 

RGB - this refers to Red, Green, Blue and is a term for on screen color. If you are reading this, you are reading an RGB display via your computer.  The three colors that create every other tone of color that is visible on your screen. There is no black or white ‘color’. Neither is there yellow or purple. They are all a combination of red, green and blue.

“Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.”    Claude Monet

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Print

There are four fundamental areas that affect the cost of every printed piece: design, color, paper, quantity.print

Design – Most every week we receive beautiful files from people who want us to print their business card, brochure or pamphlet.  The content is excellent and the design and colors fantastic.  Looking at the file “on-screen”, the colors go right to the edge of the “paper” or there is a line accenting  words that  also goes to the edge.  This design is called a bleed.

However, our equipment cannot print to the very edge of the paper.  We have a small margin around all edges of the sheet, on which we cannot print.  In order for us to print to the edge, we actually have to print on a larger sheet and then cut the piece through the color. Voila!  The design goes  to the edge of the paper now.

So, if you want a standard US sheet of 8-1/2” X 11” to have the design print to the edge of the piece, we need to print on 11” X 17” and then cut to size.  Accordingly, if you want your 11” X 17” piece to have a bleed, then we print on 12” X 18” and cut to create the bleed.

Thus a design with a bleed is always more expensive than a design without a bleed due to the increase in paper size and labor.

Color versus B&W – Our color process is defined as CMYK –  a mixture of cyan, magenta, yellow and black.  Whenever we print a “color” we are actually laying down four colors to blend into the final output color you’ve chosen.  If your design is B&W then all we lay down is black – one color.  Thus color is always more expensive than B&W.

Paper stock or weight – Regular paper is called text and heavier paper is called cover. Generally text is used for pieces like stationery, letters or handouts.  Heavier cover is generally used for business cards or brochures.  Brochures printed on cover stock that have folds need to be scored before folding so that the stock will not crack when folded.

Thus, this increases the price because the cover stock is heavier (more paper) and the piece needs a score to fold, adding an additional step involving labor.

Quantity – The number of sheets in your output and the total quantity you order will also affect the final cost of your piece.  We have  set-up for every job we print and must cover  this expense.  The set up time is part of, and will affect, the unit cost or per piece price of a job. The unit cost changes with the quantity.  A job for 10 pieces has a higher per piece cost than a job of 1,000 pieces, although the total cost of the 1,000 piece run will be higher.  Compared to offset printing, digital printing has dramatically reduced the cost of short run jobs. This is an area where our new equipment excels.

There is no right or wrong on any of these options – it is your marketing piece or business card or brochure – and you should be proud and confident of what you are giving to your customers or prospective clients.  Just be aware of what will affect your final cost – design, color, paper, quantity.

Till next time……Jeff

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Posted by on in ISS Blog Articles

Welcome to our inaugural post on our blog where the subject matter will roam across many topics and ideas from marketing to print thru discs and back again.  Our hope is that you will expand your understanding of our products and how you can extend your marketing effectiveness. (My real hope is that you might even laugh once in awhile here!).

At ISS we offer digital duplication in the form of print (paper) and disc (CD, DVD, USB) complimented by design, variable data merge, mailing, shipping and warehouse services.  An ideal client would use all of our services, but we are arranged to supply single items to our customers.

Today I would like to delve into our digital print offerings.  The color in digital printing is an interesting topic. Most of our customers believe that the color on their computer screen will match the color of our output and reds will be red and blues will be blue.  The reality is that is not always the case.

It is important to understand that many of our computer monitors are not calibrated and that over time the display colors will change.  And every now and again, what we see for color on our display does not match the output of the color from the printer.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it could be your monitor!  For this simple reason, if the color output is critical we suggest that ISS print a proof for you to review before production.  Yes, yes my advisors tell me this is expensive to do, but it eliminates any disappointments by making sure the output matches expectations.

For digital printers to hold accurate colors, the machines need to be calibrated and we calibrate every morning and if required, we will calibrate before a particular job that we know to be tricky (we learn by printing and duplicating many of your jobs – see the benefits of a relationship!).

Here is a picture of our calibration:

Color in Digital Printing

By calibrating every morning we bring our machines back to the factory settings for color and thus we know that the machine is reporducing accurate colors.  But calibrating takes some time and some cost and  not all printers are willing to take this step.  When not calibrated, the machines can drift so the color produced today may not be the same as next month.  We are committed to producing the best output possible and thus we calibrate a much as required.

Another step we take is to supply our color charts to those clients that need (or request) them.  Here is our color chart:

ISS PMS-Pantone Management System Chart

This is our machines interpretation of the pantone colors and by supplying this chart to designers and customers we can help ensure that the desired color is produced.

For many of our print customers none of these steps are required…the color is just not that critical or difficult.  For some, these steps are crucial.  We have found over time that by taking all these steps continuously and consistently we produce better overall quality for all our customers consistently week after week.

Till the next post, cheers!!

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