October 18, 2012

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Change is Coming


HR Corner: Expert Advice on Competitive Compensation and Angry Employees

By Claudia St. John, president, Affinity HR Group LLC

Q: How can we convince our employees that our compensation plans are competitive?

A: First, before you “convince them,” you have to make sure that they are in fact competitive with the industry. Invest your time and energy in doing some market analysis on benchmark salary research. You need research to show your employees that you are paying competitively. Your employees are likely to search the web themselves and present their own data using or We use more reliable databases, such as state or large managed compensation databases, because these are based on solid economic research across many disciplines on job-specific research corresponding with geographic indicators.

In terms of how much to pay, surveys often present data in the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. A good rule of thumb is you want to hover around the 50th percentile. You don't want to be the highest paying company in town nor do you want to be below the 10th percentile or you will get a reputation for being a low-paying employer, which may detract potential candidates from pursing employment. Be prepared to show your employees the data. When they actually see the numbers, it may build confidence when they realize the grass is not always greener. Lastly, sharing your comp data and how your program works shows that you are transparent and that employees are paid using a fair and systematic approach.

Q: We have an employee who has a bad anger problem. She is our top revenue producer, but her explosive anger has caused problems in the office. Many of our employees are afraid to approach her because they do not want to deal with her volatile reactions. I want her to stop this behavior, but I cannot afford to lose her, either.

A: You need to deal with this issue head on by placing her on a corrective action plan. I would first start with a stern counseling where you give implicit and meaningful feedback on her anger issues. Cite specific examples of times when she has blown up and emphasize the effect her anger outbursts have had on staff, clients and customers. While she may be your star performer and is positively affecting your bottom line, she is doing serious damage to the other employees and a disservice to your organization. These anger outbursts are no doubt disturbing your staff's productivity. If your employee does not respond to the counseling, then I suggest you follow through with disciplinary action. Let her know what the consequences will be if she fails to curtail this destructive behavior. Reiterate office expectations around respect, professionalism and safety. The trick is to learn how to harness the maverick. Keeping these mavericks around may have diminishing returns on the health and culture of your organization that far outweigh the revenue they bring to the company. If you, as the leader, continue to tolerate this behavior, you are showing your employees that it is OK to treat others this way. My advice is if the anger issues can't be tamed, then cut your losses as soon as possible.

Affinity HR Group LLC is a consulting firm and PSDA partner that specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations and their member companies.

In this section of the
Print Solutions e-Newsletter, St. John responds to recent human resources-related questions that may impact you and your business. Have a question for Claudia? Send your query via email and your question may be answered in a future edition of HR Corner.

All PSDA member companies receive discounted pricing on Affinity HR Group's wide variety of services. For more information, visit the group's website.

Team Concept Printing & Thermography


CEO Summit Keynote Presenter Announced

Have you registered for the 2013 CEO Summit taking place at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, on Feb. 11-13 yet? PSDA is excited to announce the keynote presenter at the event will be Soren Kaplan, author of the bestselling book, "Leapfrogging." He will present a session called “Breakthrough Change: Why Disruptive Innovation is Everyone's Business.” Kaplan will discuss the importance of achieving disruptive innovation in your organization through services, business models, and customer experience and will showcase strategies that you can use to deliver everyday breakthroughs.

This annual event is developed specifically for the owners and executives of PSDA member companies. During the event, attendees can network, participate in top-quality education sessions and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, including the Ritz-Carlton's award winning 18-hole championship golf course designed by renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio.

Check the PSDA website for more information on the program.
Register Now for the Sixth Annual VIP Series Conference Hosted by Ennis and Glatfelter

Learn how the print industry's experts develop, strategize and communicate through print at the sixth annual VIP Series Conference hosted by Ennis and Glatfelter. Expect to learn how to develop opportunities and grow sales, build successful business strategies, strengthen your interpersonal communication skills, and maintain focus and manage time with a busy schedule.

The conference will be hitting the following cities in the upcoming weeks: Leawood, Kan. (10/24); Dallas (10/30); Anaheim, Calif. (11/13); San Francisco (11/14); Charlotte, N.C. (11/27); Atlanta (11/28); and Columbus, Ohio (12/4)

“The VIP Series is another example of our manufacturer and supplier community investing in the distributor market. If you are in or near one of these cities, I encourage you to invest in yourself by making the time to come out to learn,” said PSDA Executive Vice President Matt Sanderson, who will be speaking during the conference series.

For more information and to register for one of the seven conference locations nationwide, visit

PSDA New Member Highlight: Brandelope

Q: How did you hear about PSDA?

A: We heard about PSDA from a guy in the promotional products industry who is also a member of PSDA. He suggested that PSDA members would be very well suited to sell Brandelope priority mailers, rigid box mailers and short run presentation folders. His opinion was that PSDA distributors generally have greater print knowledge and therefore would be confident showing, explaining and selling our products.

Q: What are your primary reasons for joining PSDA?

A: Our primary reason for joining PSDA was to tap into its motivated and very knowledgeable group of sales representatives. What makes it so exciting for us and hopefully for the distributor members is our little niche. The response to Brandelope in Baltimore [at the 2012 Print Solutions Conference & Expo] was fantastic. We all love the printing industry. I say that unabashedly. It was so much fun meeting this huge group of people who feel the same way! In the '80s and '90s we used to say we had ink flowing in our veins. We still do. For some it has changed to toner, but it still is putting images on substrates, and it couldn't be more fun. These are the best of times in a way. Although the smartphone has dealt our industry a blow, there is still nothing that beats printing in all sorts of venues. We just need to continue to find them and develop them and see them incorporated in fun and unique ways that help our clients achieve their goals. And I believe we can do this — together.

Q: What services/products does your company provide?

A: We presently make priority mailers, rigid box mailers and short run presentation folders. Our quality is very good, and we specialize in short runs and variable data. Because our background is the box business, we can also make many sizes and shapes of boxes. Straight and reverse tuck, gable, display, pyramids, small and large (depending on how large), SBS and rigid — you name it. We are also adding variable die-cutting for samples and even short run production.

For more information, visit the company's website.
Ennis, Inc.

Member News

EnviroPAK to Exhibit at PACK EXPO 2012

PSDA member EnviroPAK will be exhibiting at PACK EXPO International 2012, held Oct. 28-31 in Chicago. PACK EXPO International 2012 brings together more than 46,000 buyers from around the world and more than 1,800 leading suppliers, showcasing state-of-the art materials, machinery and methods for packaging and processing in every market. PACK EXPO International comprises more than 1.1 million square feet of exhibit space, including EnviroPAK's Booth 5502.

For PSDA members interested in attending PACK EXPO, contact Bryon Crump, EnviroPAK's vice president of business development, for a complimentary pass.
e-Quantum Clients Are Industry Top Performers

The August 2012 issue of Print Solutions magazine featured PSDA's annual article showcasing the industry's Top Print Distributors. In that issue, about 48 percent of the top 25 Fastest Growing PSDA Member Distributors, 42 percent of the Top 50 PSDA Member Distributors, 50 percent of the Beyond the Top 50 highest performing PSDA distributors, and 30 percent of the Top Non-PSDA Member Distributors are members of PSDA member e-Quantum's client family.

"We are extremely proud of their accomplishments and proud of our opportunity to play a role in their outstanding success. They exemplify industry leadership at its finest," e-Quantum CEO Ross Barker stated.

e-Quantum clients ranked in the Top 25 Fastest-Growing PSDA Member Distributors: Safeguard Web and Graphics (SWAG); Regency Print Solutions; The Sourcing Group; Performance Group; Meridian; Graphic Information Systems; DFI – Solutions in Print; DUGGER Business Forms; Suncoast Marketing; Preferred Group; M7 Business Systems; Printcbf

e-Quantum clients ranked in the Top 50 PSDA Member Distributors: Prime/Ampersand; MPX; DFI – Solutions in Print; The Sourcing Group; Golden Pacific Systems; Meridian; CTP Solutions; Eagle Graphics; Performance Group; Graphic Information Systems; Suncoast Marketing; Tabco; ADI Group; IBF; Computer Merchandise Corporation; Safeguard Web and Graphics (SWAG); Premiere Resources; DocuMedia Group; Suncoast Forms & Systems; Multi Business Systems; Regency Print Solutions

e-Quantum clients ranked in the Beyond Top 50 Fastest-Growing PSDA Member Distributors: Bann Business Solutions; Centro Print Solutions; Century Forms; Commander Printed Products; DUGGER Business Forms; E Print Solutions; Formsystems; M7 Business Systems; Preferred Group; Printcbf

e-Quantum clients ranked in the Top 20 Non-PSDA-Member Distributors: SI Solutions; ABC Printing Company; One Source Incorporated; Control Printing Group; Piedmont Graphics; Ray Hough Company
Boise Inc.
The Sourcing Group Acquires CU Ink

PSDA member The Sourcing Group recently announced it completed the acquisition of CU ink, a distributor of print and marketing services headquartered in Norristown, Pa. For more than 18 years, CU ink has provided printed products and services to the financial industry, and with a direct interest in the market through this acquisition, The Sourcing Group increases its commitment to supporting and growing its financial industry business.

With the acquisition of CU ink, The Sourcing Group expands and strengthens its geographical footprint. This business integration provides the ideal synergy to deliver technology and services that address the specific concerns of financial industry, allowing operations to increase efficiency and keep up with growing demand. Joe Falcone, president of The Sourcing Group, said: “We are excited to add the talented employees of CU ink as part of our growing family of operating divisions within The Sourcing Group.”
WebbMason Expands Sales Team, Names VP of Finance

WebbMason, a PSDA member and integrated marketing solutions and services company headquartered in suburban Baltimore, recently bolstered its financial leadership and added key sales staff to capitalize on market opportunities and better serve new and existing customers. Richard Barbato Jr., CPA, was recently promoted to vice president of finance. In his new position, Barbato is responsible for day-to-day management of the company's expanding accounting operation and oversees multiple accounting group managers in accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, tax, treasury and general accounting.

WebbMason also recently added sales account executives in four key markets to help service existing customers and drive new business. Joe Miner will serve as vice president of sales for a newly opened office near Buffalo, NY. Meg Dawes will service the greater Baltimore area from WebbMason's corporate headquarters. Lisa Kinsella will drive new business in the Chicago market. Kyle Smith will service new accounts in Tampa and the surrounding area. Trey Blanton, a recent graduate with a communications degree from Wake Forest University, will work with customers out of WebbMason's Charlotte, N.C., office.
PSDA Members Assemble to Enjoy Baseball Game

PSDA board member Brian Coats recently organized a member outing to watch the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Houston Astros. The group — which included members from RBO PrintLogistix, MAR Graphics, FormStore Incorporated, Response Builders, The Paradigm Group, Concentric Sourcing, EnviroPAK and Tabco — enjoyed an afternoon in a suite at Busch Stadium complete with good food, drinks and PSDA member networking. While there, the group posed in front of the 2006 World Series Trophy, one of several World Series trophies on display in the Champion's Club at the stadium.

Front row: Brian Coats, MAR Graphics; Jim Ruggeri, Concentric Sourcing; George Crump, EnviroPAK
Back row: John Sanders, RBO PrintLogistix; Tim Rasmussen, RBO PrintLogistix; Tracey DeGunia, FormStore Incorporated; Christi Fentress, Response Builders; Brad Bilyeu, Tabco; Kris Bilyeu, Tabco; Dave Hurdle, The Paradigm Group

Top Story

2012 State of the Industry Report: Fundamental Market Shifts Underway
Wide-Format Imaging (10/12) Gustavson, Denise

The sign and graphics industry has undergone a fundamental shift in business since the recession, with old sales models no longer viable and new models still in a state of transition. Commoditization of certain printing markets has significantly contracted profitability for print service providers (PSPs), while MACtac Graphic Products' Rick Moore said that the recession has "removed the slack" and forced PSPs to be "leaner and meaner," managing waste and headcount closer than previously. A recent NAPL printing industry annual study cited a decline from 30,230 U.S. printing shops, including wide-format firms, in 2008 to 27,285 in 2011. "The consolidation of print shops is creating a dynamic where there are fewer customers, but those who are remaining are larger, and have greater purchasing power," said Esko's Steve Bennett.

Still, a recent poll by InfoTrends, Wide-Format Imaging and Cygnus Business Media points to a substantially more positive outlook. "Dealers are reporting that they expect their wide-format business to grow an average of 14.8 percent, while manufacturers are expecting 6.2 percent growth in their wide-format business," said InfoTrends' Tim Greene. "Print service providers are expecting right around 14 percent as well, so the numbers look strong, which I think is because people that buy advertising recognize the value of wide-format signage and graphics as an effective advertising medium." HP Scitex Industrial Presses' Xavier Garcia concurred with the observation that the sign and display market is expanding and showing signs of recovery from the recession.

Seiko Instruments USA's Pat Ryan saw the cessation of a limitless stream of credit as a good thing, because it means that unsustainable business models will no longer be supported. "Today's market is more grounded in the fundamentals of business success — with a clear focus on serving customer needs and investing more carefully in capital equipment and personnel resources," Ryan said. He emphasized several paradigm shifts that the industry is undergoing, namely the migration from traditional analog processes to digital and the expansion into other related industries requiring the same types of products. Digital technologies support opportunities and new potential revenue channels for PSPs. Digital imaging and present market conditions have spurred print buyers to concentrate on customization. Subsequently, there is greater demand for shorter runs, with the total number of daily jobs rising and numbers of job copies falling. Campaign turnaround time also is accelerating, while personalization and variable information such as Quick Response Codes, variable maps and B2C opportunities are coming to the fore.

There is strong movement in the analog to digital conversion as more applications, including emerging markets, are printed digitally. Dynamic digital signage, textile and fabric printing and retail and point of purchase markets are projected to be particularly strong sectors for digital printing, while packaging also has a massive opportunity to switch high-value pages from analog to digital. Still, to differentiate themselves from the competition, printers "need to help their customers by offering innovative solutions that go beyond print to help them meet their business objectives," said FESPA's Neil Felton. "Understanding what your customers need so that you can deliver a quality product is crucial. It's not enough just to do as you always did; you have to see things from the customer's perspective."

PSDA members receive a discount on InfoTrends products and services. For more information, click here.

Printing Trends

Does Converter Creativity Go Untapped?
Labels & Labeling (09/28/12) Kellock, Stuart

Printers who embrace the creative process can help brands achieve greater originality and impact and ultimately flourish during the tough economic times. All too often, printers are viewed as end of the line for the creative process, favoring productivity and efficiency more than the desires of the client and creative team. However, there are printers who want to serve as an extra creative resource, who have an eye for detail and want to try new ideas and concepts. These printers should be considered at the start of the design process, moved up the creative pecking order alongside the designer and should be around the table when discussions are held on the design of a product or packaging.

Label Apeel has close working relationships with several award-winning design and marketing agencies and brand managers that involve participation on initial concept to creation of packaging. The printer has worked on labels for a brewery that saw a 400 percent increase in sales throughout spring 2012 and a Leicestershire company that recently won a major award for its cheese. Agencies and brand managers do not have to search too hard to find printers who want to forge relationships and participate in the creative process.

Treading Lightly: Holistic Logistics Assists on the Sustainability Front
PrintWeek (10/04/12) Roper, Jenny

Printers who focus more on sustainability can ensure their products are made from an environmentally friendly substrate, but the other half of the job involves working to ensure products are recycled or composted. They can influence the design stage to make sure the product is easily collapsible, includes logos that indicate it is recyclable and offers details on what a substrate is made of. In gaining an audience with a designer, the printer also might suggest changes that will bring them back to minimizing the impact of their own processes.

Still, printers might question the amount of power they have to improve the supply chain, considering they will confront the extra cost of going greener and the issue of bureaucracy. Even when printers get through to the right person, they are likely to face designers who are wedded to the exact aesthetic they have created and do not take them seriously because they are not authorities on the environment. Perhaps printers should continue to offer environmental advice in order to eventually differentiate themselves from the print-as-commodity mob. "People see paper waste as very visible and tangible whereas they don't realize the impact of digital," said Alex Walsh, associate director at the Direct Mail Association. "So people may migrate to digital faster if the print industry is seen as inefficient and wasting resources — so it's got to be in everyone's interest to promote a better approach."

Digital Printing

Small-Format Digital Color Sees Large Advances
Quick Printing (10/12) Steele, Jeffrey

Print service providers who avail themselves of small-format digital color technology are finding themselves capable of delivering higher quality work with fast turnarounds and at unexpectedly affordable costs. Digital Dog Direct has, in the last five years, migrated to a digital shop accommodating small- to mid-volume digital laser print and mail. The company generates a large volume of self-mailers on 100-pound to 120-pound stock that are variable on both sides. "On one side will be the name and address and offer, and the other has the variability subtly imbedded," said company president Ken Maisel. "Digital direct mail is really about keeping in touch with customers in a personal, personalized and very customized way." The question of employing either offset or digital is ultimately dictated by economics, and sooner or later, economics mandate offset. "There's a threshold where you can get better pricing if you can give up the variability with offset," Maisel said.

Digital Dog Direct uses four Konica bizhub C8000 color digital press printers and five high-speed black-and-white printers with variable printing capability. "We have the capability of UV coating," Maisel said. "That creates a very, very shiny, gloss-like finish. It not only protects the piece when it is running through high-speed postal equipment, preventing that scuffed-up look, but also gives it an upscale and unique appearance." Konica Minolta-supplied Duplo 5000 booklet makers let Digital Dog Direct print 30- to 40-page booklets where each page can be variably printed.

Meanwhile, Sir Speedy Printing and Marketing Services also has invested heavily in small-format digital color to accommodate clients such as apartment communities, insurance and health care, which typically require marketing and signage services. "We have a Xerox 800 with the clear color option," said Sir Speedy's Emily Albritton. "That allows us to do a lot of materials we wouldn't be able to do, or at least not as cost effectively, without it. We can do short runs that look like they feature spot UV, but they were just run on a color printer. We helped a financial services client re-brand using the clear coat. It looks like their logo is hologrammed in the background of their brochures, business cards and financial report covers." Many Sir Speedy customers seek heavier business cards, and the Xerox 800 allows heavy stocks such as 130-pound cover or 16-point cover to be run in a single pass.

Digital Printing With a Whole New Level of In-Line Integration
Packaging World (10/12) Reynolds, Pat

Innovative Labeling Solutions (ILS) has assembled what it calls the world's first complete in-line digital print production line. The company has efficiently integrated in one line operations that have been traditionally handled separately and sequentially, and this should reduce production steps, minimize work in process and improve overall operating and economic efficiencies. The new line includes one of the three HP Indigo WS6000 digital presses in operation at ILS's Hamilton, Ohio, facility, which produces labels and a broad array of folding cartons, shrink sleeves and flexible packaging.

The other key components joining the press in the single integrated line are an upstream HP corona priming unit and a downstream finishing system from Delta Industrial Services. "Finishing" can refer to finishing steps, such as die-cutting involved in conventional printing, as well as digital printing and things that are inherently necessary when printing with HP Electroinks. "There is no question about the benefits, especially not having to tie up a large asset like a flexo press to lay down the primer," said Sean Gallagher, director of innovation at ILS. "It also reduces material waste and primer usage overall." Argo Tea in Chicago and Precision Foods in St. Louis are among the beneficiaries of ILS's in-line digital production capabilities.

Print Technology

Impact of Electronic Technologies on Print
MyPrintResource (10/10/12)

The decline in offset printed pages cannot be wholly attributed to electronic technologies, according to a PRIMIR study that considers 12 print applications ranging from yearly reports and books to transactional printing. The study cited the central drivers of page volume shrinkage as changes in business models enabled by electronic technologies, the economic recession, new distribution channels for electronic content and electronic advertising, regulatory changes and electronic output display technologies. Although no dramatic adjustments are projected for most applications through 2014, major changes are anticipated during the following two decades. Companies in the print value chain will have to change their business infrastructure to scale down for less demand, in keeping with the forecast that a 5 percent annual decline in page volumes translates into a nearly 50 percent reduction in print during a 10-year span.

Although there are opportunities for individual firms and leaders to specialize in areas such as variable data printing, Quick Response Codes, key search words, packaging applications and printed electronics, industrywide specialization is not possible. The printing sector will be sustained for many years, but with fewer printers, fewer tons of paper, fewer pounds of ink and fewer commercial printers and manufacturers that cater to commercial printers. The increasing interactivity of communication is perhaps the single most valuable function facilitated by electronic technologies, and many of the tools needed to produce electronic content are the same as those needed to create printed content.

The business model of purchasing larger quantities than needed to get the lowest cost of print per page is outdated, as electronic technologies not only allow more timely and efficient communication but also reveal the innate inefficiencies in print. Both now and in the future, the advantages of electronic communication technologies overtake and will continue to overtake the pitfalls. The computing cloud will further cause content with a time value to migrate to electronic communication. Still, the PRIMIR study said print will coexist where instant availability is not the most vital communication factor.

Healing Solution for Label Accuracy
Packaging Digest (09/01/12) Vol. 49, No. 9, P. 70 Kalkowski, John

To eliminate errors in labeling, Mangar Medical Packaging, which makes sterile barrier packaging for Class II and III medical devices, has developed an on-demand printing solution consisting of label management software created in-house and dedicated label printers for each production line. The solution has removed problems affiliated with Mangar's prior batch label process while sustaining the quality and accuracy of each client's novel labeling needs. In addition to unique customer labeling requirements, the company must ensure that its labels are in compliance with federal medical device labeling and tracking mandates.

To label both product bundles and the boxes they are packed into, Mangar uses a fleet of 20 Sato America CL408e thermal printers. Mangar's Jerel Pino created Harmony, a new printing software solution, which is integrated with the firm's Infor VISUAL Enterprise enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Not only are the printers used for bundle tag and box labeling, but they also can print custom labels to fulfill client's special labeling requests. Mangar also recently implemented a pair of Sato printers with rotary cutters to label raw materials.

There is a printing cart equipped with two printers assigned to each production line, with one printer handling bundle labels and the other box labels. Both printers are linked to a touchscreen computer, while a Honeywell 4600Gg barcode scanner is included with each cart. Quality technicians first scan a barcoded work order, and the Harmony system then compiles all of the required customer data about the work order being produced and the proper labels to be printed. The technicians print test labels and conduct a quality check, and once the labels are verified, the floor operators can start printing labels on demand as product comes off the line.

"When labels are printed, all the information about each label is recorded in our database," Pino said. "We record bundle and box numbers, time and date the label was printed, the raw materials lot identifiers, the machine used to produce the work order, comments added to the label and many other data points. This all happens with the push of a button and is transparent to the users. Our ability to accurately trace our product has grown exponentially." The correct number of labels required for each box is automatically determined by the software. "The new systems have made the entire labeling process much easier and faster," Pino said. "Work order label data errors have been eliminated because all of the data is now directly from the ERP database."

Oldsmar Mayor's Printing Business Delivers High-Tech Political Fliers
Tampa Bay Times (09/30/12) Brassfield, Mike

On Demand Printing owner and mayor of Oldsmar, Fla., Jim Ronecker is launching augmented reality political campaign fliers that use QR Codes to turn printed campaign material into a video broadcast platform accessible from mobile devices. Voters can scan a QR Code on campaign literature with their smartphone to see custom campaign videos that are regularly updated. "The nice thing about the technology is you can literally change the message on the fly," Ronecker said. "You can change the video every half-hour. You can change your message daily, a lot cheaper than a television commercial."

The technology was developed by Ronecker in conjunction with U.K. partner Hargreaves Media, and they unveiled the product at a recent Paul Ryan rally, circulating thousands of postcards with embedded Romney/Ryan campaign videos. Hargreaves Media supplies the technology, while Ronecker's firm handles the printing services. "This is the future of campaigning," said On Demand Printing client and Pinellas County Commissioner Neil Brickfield. "You can change the message as fast as you can formulate a YouTube video and get it online." The price of the postcards is based on how many fliers are ordered, although Brickfield said it is "not prohibitively expensive."

Leave your comments about this campaign on the PSDA Blog.

Marketing Services

Application Spotlight: Answering the Call of the Customer With Quality Graphics
Wide-Format Imaging (10/12) Gustavson, Denise

Signs Now Bradenton was assigned the task of creating a retail environment for the Orlando, Fla., store of its client, sports retailer FIT2RUN. "[The FIT2RUN executive team] wanted to bring the running experience to the next level of support, comfort, technology, physicality and enjoyment," said Signs Now co-owner Brian Lamb. "They also wanted to attract the public with this well placed, attractive store in the Florida Mall and secure a consumer following through their programs and events."

Lamb said FIT2RUN creates the main store concept, and the Signs Now team collaborates with the FIT2RUN marketing director in settling on specific design layouts for the stores that will look terrific when printed and recommends the materials to be used that will produce the best effect. "Our portion of the project probably involves about four to six weeks of work although the store project may have been conceived six to 12 months previously," Lamb said. For the general graphics, the graphic designer works with FIT2RUN's marketing director to finalize the graphics, which are then submitted to Signs Now. Following that, the shop orders, cuts and shapes substrate material, prints the graphics, assembles the prints, applies touch-ups and packages the signs for shipping. The Signs Now team takes two to three days to install the graphics once they arrive at the store.

"The hanging graphics are meant to be up for two to three years, but the wall graphics can change about every six to 12 months," Lamb said. "Many of the wall graphics are mounted on PVC with Velcro on the back and then mounted to the wall. These can be taken down and new graphics put in place as styles or trends change. A lot of hardware considerations need to be addressed since the signs will be in the public and, therefore, they must be durable to touch and safe when hung. We laminate almost all of the signs since the public may be touching the final product."

Signs Now exclusively uses high-end vinyl from 3M and Oracal on such projects. The majority of the hanging signs employ a lightweight foam core type product. A Hewlett-Packard Designjet 9000 does the bulk of Signs Now's production, although the company recently migrated to an HP Designjet L25500 for most of their current and future printing, giving the shop faster turnaround times because they no longer need to wait 12 to 24 hours prior to lamination.

Beleaguered Postal Service Looks to Ad Industry for Help
Advertising Age (10/12/12) Schultz, E.J.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on Oct. 13 plugged several business-targeted services such as branded stamps and a new discount for marketers who pair paper mail with digital campaigns. "We need to help the industry, help the marketers, do more interactive mail to really get people engaged back with the mail," said David Mastervich, the postal service's manager for catalogs and saturation mail, in a presentation at the Association of National Advertisers' annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. "We think of mail as the platform to launch your digital campaigns." The USPS is hoping to link itself to the rising popularity of social media and mobile marketing by offering discounts that integrate digital marketing, such as QR Codes, and direct-mail pieces. "We are going to run campaigns every two months for different types of technology," Mastervich said.

At his presentation, Mastervich promoted what he described as the "emotional" benefits of mail marketing. "Humans like to hold things in their hand," he said. "When you're reading hard copy as a human there's a lot of parts of the brain that go off that are emotional; you are connected to what you are doing," he said, citing a Millward Brown study. But when people read things online, "there's this little spot [in the brain] that says 'this is fleeting.'" USPS views the effort to get more business from the ad industry as a potential lifeline to help it dig out its current shortage of cash.

Social Media Leads to Email and Search Conversion Path (09/26/12) Sullivan, Laurie

A Forrester Research/GSI Commerce Spring Attribution Research report cited the web as a compelling tool for consumers seeking brands, products and services by entering words in a search box or speaking them aloud. The study implied that new purchasers are "heavily influenced by paid search," more so than repeat customers. Generally, 39 percent of transactions by new customers start with clicks from paid or organic search results.

The report found that email is the best tool for drawing repeat customers, with about 4 percent of new consumers influenced by an email and using one other tactic to find the product, versus 17 percent of repeat customers using email and one other tactic. Direct traffic is less critical to sales, with social media being the optimal instrument for bringing awareness to brands, products and services. The report uncovered a disconnect between the conversion and the influence from highly top-of-the-funnel tactics that are more time-consuming.

Certain social sites are more effective than others in moving consumers through the purchase path. Pinterest users spend less on travel than the average Internet user, but for clothing and home categories, they spend more, according to the recently issued comScore State of the Internet in the U.S. 2012 report. Images on Pinterest associated with the Home and Living category influence consumers most, versus other social sites.

Interested in PSDA advertising opportunities? Download our 2012 Media Kit for more information. Turn to for one-stop access to the PSDA blog, industry news and a live sourcing request feed.

About PSDA
PSDA is an unrivaled network of professionals, dedicated to providing best-in-class print, marketing and business communications solutions to end-user customers through the distributor channel. PSDA provides its members with information on market trends and leading practices through a series of national and regional events, online training, and its flagship monthly magazine, Print Solutions, which was recently honored by Trade Association Business Publications International for coverage of the prior year's most impactful client success stories.

Learn more about membership in PSDA or contact our headquarters ( office at 800.230.0175 and talk with a member of our staff team.
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