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November 15, 2012


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Americal
CEO Summit
2013 Distributor Solutions Expo

Ennis, Inc.
 

PSDA’s Signature Event Has New Name




PSDA’s signature annual event, formerly known as the Print Solutions Conference & Expo, has a new name, a new tagline and has been redesigned for 2013. It’s shorter, tighter and solution-focused. Save the date — May 8-9, 2013 at Navy Pier in Chicago.

What's in a name? Quite a bit, according to John Delavan, PSDA's director of marketing and communication services and editor-in-chief of its flagship monthly magazine, Print Solutions.

“Renaming our event is a critical step in repositioning this show as the must-attend event for distributors and manufacturers that want to partner to deliver powerful solutions for end-user customers,” Delavan said. “We want to ensure that distributors understand this is their premier opportunity to find solutions that meet their customers' changing needs. We also want to emphasize that PSDA's expo delivers the power of partnership between distributors and the many channel partners that exhibit at the show, all in hopes of connecting with attending distributors to develop and deliver solutions for clients. The name Distributor Solutions Expo also eliminates any potential confusion between Print Solutions (PSDA's monthly magazine and twice-monthly e-newsletter) and the association's annual show, as well as next year's PRINT 13 event staged by the organizers of GRAPH EXPO, which has a different emphasis than our show.”

Delavan added that dropping the word “print” from the event's name was purposeful.

“While printed products remain vital to the event's success and reason for being, as well as to PSDA and all of its member businesses, our attendees have told us that an exclusive emphasis on print does not reflect the industry's evolution, which includes many solutions that go beyond purely print and often enhance it,” Delavan said. “Attracting new attendees is a focal goal for this event. The event's new name will only help to achieve that goal.”

In the coming weeks and months, Delavan said, you'll be hearing how changes to the event — from revitalized educational offerings to a reinvented trade show floor setup — will enhance the return on investment for everyone who participates. PSDA is packing top-notch education and new, high-energy networking opportunities into two full days, as opposed to three days in previous years. Read Print Solutions magazine and this e-newsletter, as well as regularly updated content online (psda.org/2013), to learn much more as the event approaches.

Boise Inc.
 

PSDA News

PSDA Releases 2013 Media Planner

PSDA's 2013 Media Planner is now available online at psda.org/mediaplanner. Use this guide to manage how you want your marketing messages to reach PSDA's premier audience of distributors, trade printers, suppliers and technology partners who work together to provide differentiated solutions to end users.

In PSDA's 2013 Media Planner, you'll find comprehensive information about Print Solutions magazine advertising opportunities (including the 2013 editorial calendar, ad rates and specifications). You'll also find information about reaching PSDA members through the association's website, social media channels, webinars, Online Sourcing Guide and email blasts.

Contact your sales representatives — Dave Merli and Ryan Abell — now to secure optimal placements at the best-available pricing.
Ennis and Glatfelter Continue VIP Series



The sixth annual VIP series conference, hosted by Ennis and Glatfelter, continued this week, in Anaheim, Calif., and San Francisco, with the Anaheim event drawing more than 90 distributor attendees (pictured above).

The conference has already been held in four venues across the country and will soon be coming to Charlotte, N.C. (11/27); Atlanta (11/28); and Columbus, Ohio (12/4).

Attendees shared dialogue and best practices with peers and print industry experts in order to energize business and identify opportunities to grow sales, strengthen marketing tactics, and manage time and focus in our ever changing business environment.

“Throughout the course of this event, I've enjoyed connecting with PSDA members and prospective members in each city. For those located in upcoming cities who are looking to learn, I hope you'll invest the time to connect and learn," said PSDA Executive Vice President Matt Sanderson, who is one of the presenters during the conference series.

For more information, and to register for one of the remaining conference locations nationwide, visit www.ennis.com/vip.
HR Corner: Expert Advice on Year-End Bonuses

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

Q: I would like to give my staff a year-end bonus. What is the appropriate amount to give them? Do I give them all the same amount or do I vary the amount based on some other criteria? Our company is profitable and I want to share those profits with my employees, but I want to know what is customary in this situation.

A: Year-end bonuses are a wonderful way to say “thank you” at the end of the year. There are many ways you can distribute an equitable bonus plan for your employees. You can base the program on each employee's length of service or a certain percentage of the individual's annual income so that it is fair and equitable. Remember to follow appropriate tax laws. Another generous option would be to “gross up” the bonus so the employee doesn't get stuck with the tax burden. Be careful not to set a precedent because, once you issue these bonuses, employees may come to expect them next year. Make sure you label it as a “one-time only” year-end bonus, so you manage expectations. It is a good idea to create a policy that outlines the terms and conditions of your plan and make sure it is well communicated to your staff so everyone understands how the program works. One note of caution: Base your bonus on something other than whether you “like” someone or not. That will certainly lead to trouble down the line!

Q: We are making changes to our commission structure. My sales rep tells me he has to agree to it or it's illegal. He has no employment contract and he has never “signed-off” on his salary. It's always been my decision. Does he have this right?

A: Nope. You're good.

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.

Member News

CFC Print Solutions Named One of Fastest-Growing Private Companies

Grand Prairie, Texas-based CFC Print Solutions recently was recognized by Inc. Magazine (September 2012 issue) as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held companies in the United States. The PSDA member experienced 825 percent growth from 2008 to 2011, landing itself 462nd on the list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the country. CFC Print Solutions was the sole printing company to make the prestigious list.

"We continue to grow at a remarkable rate — thanks in part to a customer base seeking alternative methods to traditional distribution and providing cutting edge services” said managing member and senior partner Tommy Gillis. “Being recognized by a national entrepreneurial publication like Inc. Magazine is quite an honor.”
WebbMason Selects David Rich as Newest Board Director

PSDA member WebbMason, an integrated marketing solutions and services company headquartered in suburban Baltimore, recently announced the appointment of Revolution Analytics CEO David Rich to its board of directors. Rich brings more than 30 years of experience in business analytics, growth strategies/new business development, client business transformation and management of partnerships and alliances. In the customer relationship management (CRM) and ERP/supply chain areas, he has partnered or consulted with companies such as Merkle, Unica, Aprimo, SAS, SAP, Teradata, Oracle/Seibel and Microsoft Dynamics.

“Dave Rich provides valuable insight — particularly in CRM and analytics — as we move more aggressively into the marketing software market to better serve tactical and strategic marketers in addition to our traditional purchasing, ops and procurement customers,” said WebbMason President and CEO Warner Mason. "Dave understands how big data factors into marketing today. His expertise will help us deliver measureable ROI for marketers looking to drive greater revenue through analytics-driven initiatives."
Western States Envelope & Label Offers Free Print Apply iPhone App

PSDA member Western States Envelope & Label is a proud supporter of the new Print Apply iPhone app and is offering it free through a special link at www.wsel.com/printapply. Designed by Premedia Pros Owner Robert Hunt, Print Apply allows print professionals and graphic designers instant access to a variety of information and data they use daily, such as a paper weight reference chart, art wheel, envelope sizing chart, fraction converter, spine width calculator and much more. The app also supports the industry's environmental mission by allowing users to search for environmentally friendly papers and by dedicating an entire section entitled “Print Grows Trees” to sustainability.

"We are thrilled about this new offering and amazed by the response it's been generating,” said Steve Brocker, vice president of sales and marketing for Western States Envelope & Label. “In just a week's time, we've received nearly 1,000 downloads.”

Brocker was also pleased that the app's “Print Grows Trees” section was in synch with environmental initiatives at Western States. “Sustainability is a top priority in our company; this app helps share that message.”
Graphic Dimensions Hires New Member to Senior Management Team

Graphic Dimensions, a PSDA member and trade manufacturer of business documents, recently announced the addition of Steve Porter to its senior management team. Porter joins the company as the general manager of its new label division: New Dimension Labels. New Dimension Labels is a digital and flexographic label operation that launched in mid-November. The label division is based out of Graphic Dimension's new 65,000 square-foot facility in Atlanta. Porter brings with him more than 30 years of experience in the printing industry in various operational, sales and marketing management roles. Most recently he was the director of marketing for Discount Labels and Lancer Labels. Previous to his marketing role, Porter was the general manager of Printegra's Synergy Label unit.

“In starting up our new label division, it was essential that we assemble a staff of experienced well respected label experts to serve our distributor partners,” said Jay Scammell, president and CEO of Graphic Dimensions. “Steve's industry experience and his commitment to quality and customer satisfaction will contribute greatly to the growth of our new division.”
Formax Introduces FD 2002 and FD 2032 Desktop Pressure Sealers

PSDA member Formax recently introduced the FD 2002 and FD 2032 Desktop Pressure Sealers, replacing the FD 2000 and FD 2030. Increased speed, capacity and a new fold plate design are among the improvements. The FD 2002 now has a hopper capacity of 250 forms, with a speed of up to 8,000 per hour. The FD 2032 offers a hopper capacity of up to 350 forms, with top speed of up to 11,000 forms per hour. They feature redesigned sliding fold plates, which are easier to adjust, and fine-tune knobs for crisp, precise folds.

Standard folds include C, V, Z and uneven C and Z folds, in addition to custom fold settings. The FD 2002/FD 2032 utilize a drop-in three-roller feed system that produces dependable feeding of forms with no paper fanning required. Each has a user-friendly touch pad control panel, LED indicators, six-digit counter, jog control and fault detection. Options include a locking cabinet and a choice of two conveyors with photo eye for neat, sequential stacking of processed forms. The FD 2002 and FD 2032 are also available as packages, which include the pressure sealer, cabinet and conveyor at a reduced price.

Top Story

Xerox Survey Points to Increased Printer Optimism
PrintWeek (10/11/12) Ward, David

A poll of 485 members of Xerox's Premier Partners Global Network found more optimism among commercial printer partners worldwide with more than 70 percent expecting print to remain a major component of marketing communications, while around 50 percent were seeking to differentiate their business by converting their companies from printers to marketing services providers. "Everyone is looking at where print can fit into their customer's new business outreach or integrated marketing campaign," said Mary Roddy with Xerox Premier Partners Global Network. "We're now past the debate of the past few years of whether print is dead. We know print is going to be alive and now it's a matter of figuring out where print is going to fit and how can I maximize that."

Almost 75 percent of Xerox respondents also saw growing momentum in the migration from monochrome to color print, and many digital printers were seeing growth packaging, photo specialty and transpromo as well as variable data direct mail. "The other one I would add in there is wide-format applications, whether those are poster size or point of sale type printing," Roddy said. "We've seen that wide format has some new growth potential for our members as well."

In addition, the survey found many printers did not consider the economic situation to be nearly as challenging as last year or the year before, and a growing number also were optimistic that their volumes were steadying, while opportunities for application growth and new revenue increased. The most requested new value-added service among respondent's clients was web to print, followed by URLs, Quick Response Codes and mobile feedback and personalization. Xerox's Beth Ann Kilberg-Walsh implied the optimism in the survey was mirrored at the company's recent GRAPH EXPO booth. "We had a lot of traffic and lot of activity and a lot of very excited customers," she said.

Printing Trends

Bringing Storefronts to the Forefront
Wide-Format Imaging (10/12) Steele, Jeffrey

The benefits of web-to-print software to print service providers can include more sales, higher efficiency, print-on-demand capabilities and increased productivity and profitability, and wide-format imaging companies are catching up to other businesses in their take-up of web-to-print. One product of note is EFI's Digital Storefront, a scalable, web-to-print e-commerce platform that can be implemented on-site or from the cloud and offers tools, add-on modules and integration to Fiery-XF servers, EFI Print MIS solutions and EFI wide-format printers to help customers grab more print work, lower the number of touch points per job and realize a higher return on investment.

"Digital Storefront has an intuitive user interface that makes online ordering of print products easy, even for a novice print buyer," said EFI product manager Dave Minnick. "When ordering an ad hoc job [customer uploaded content], the buyer is introduced to the Visual Product Builder — a single-screen, interactive tool that guides the buyer through the job submission process with visual cues, real-time pricing updates and online proofing of the job specifications ordered." Minnick said that Digital Storefront also offers end-to-end automation. "In Digital StoreFront, you get online, real-time pricing as you are configuring the job ticket," he said. "And those same job ticket settings are communicated down into operations. Tight integration among EFI's portfolio of products ensures the job specifications are communicated in real-time from Digital StoreFront to the server, the print management system and the wide-format printer — a solution that makes dollars and sense for our customers."

Another notable web-to-print offering is Keen Systems' Keenprint.com, touted as the first and only cloud-based e-commerce platform for the printing industry. "It's any print for sale," said Keen CEO Vitaly Golumb. With Keenprint.com, any PSP or broker can sign up for an account and construct multiple storefronts, each serving diverse business models. Keenprint.com also boasts full shipping integration with FedEx and UPS. A customer receives an automatic email whenever there is a change in the order status, while clients also can track their orders around the clock. Golumb said Keenprint.com will boost the efficiency and profitability of PSPs, with automation and clearer communication to cut error rates and raise customer satisfaction. The system permits PSPs to pursue new business models that cannot be acquired without e-commerce and a system such as Keenprint.com.

Your Vehicle to More Profits
MyPrintResource (10/29/12) Vruno, Mark

Printers across the country can potentially turn profits in the increasingly lucrative market for car wraps and vehicle graphics, although penetration of this market involves sizable investments in technical tools that include wide-format digital print devices, resilient software programs and design and basic application instruments. The Wraptor installation device can be used to apply adhesive backed vinyl media, and it effects deployment and suspension of any graphic film to any surface through flexible design features based on configuration specifications. The tool can be deployed to 360 degrees vertically and 360 degrees horizontally, and it expands to 240 inches wide and vertically to 16 feet, according to the manufacturer.

Examples of media include Oracal USA's colors and textures for interior design, automotive trim and interior/exterior accent restyling. Series 975 Premium Structure Cast is a film that includes a transparent, solvent-based and repositionable adhesive with dimensional stability and conformability over various surfaces. The cost print firm owners can expect for securing these various assets is in the $30,000 range. The Fellers wrap supply company said successful entry into the wrap business requires getting at least the fundamentals of facility, tools, equipment, materials and training. For printed output, many shops select 60-inch-wide printers, laminators and plotter/cutters accept the widest wrap vinyls currently made, and the ability to print on wider vinyl helps limit and even prevent seams.

Training with a certified wrap provider is a great way to initiate a business and provide an outstanding forum for acquiring knowledge of industry best practices. Meanwhile, numerous wrap shops feature two computers: One for design and one for an RIP station. The design station system needs to be fast, powerful and able to process massively large files, requiring 2 GB of RAM at least. Wrap design neophytes also will need to buy lots of design software and obtain skills in Photoshop.

The Three 'P's of Sustainability
Wide-Format Imaging (11/12) Mortimer, Pam

Visual Marking Systems' Dave Sunderman noted sustainable brands are on the lookout for "sustainable-focused print service providers that can reduce time and money, add to their own sustainable programs and improve their bottom line. This is measured using the three P's — People, Profits and Planet." One possible query concerns how sustainability affects wide-format PSPs compared to smaller presses. "The print substrate used by small format printers is primarily paper for indoor use," said ProGraphix President Nicki Macfarlane. "However, wide-format printers have a multitude of printing substrates to choose from, depending on whether the print is for indoors or outdoors, rigid or flexible, flat or curved surfaces, with or without adhesive [removable, permanent repositionable] and long-term or short-term. Other decisions include the type of ink to use and if lamination is required. Finding the right sustainable option is an extremely time-consuming process, and the choices are constantly changing. Sustainable materials for wide-format can be more expensive than convention materials, which can be harder to sell."

Macfarlane said ProGraphix concentrates on delivering "products that are biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, recycled content, virgin fiber paper source or reduced PVC content whenever possible." PSPs also must consider changes in product availability and cost in addition to processes. Macfarlane reported pricing has held steady for the most part, but observed that "in cases where the sustainable product is more expensive, we have found that customers typically don't mind paying a slightly higher price when sustainability is a key goal."

"It really depends on the rate at which cost and opportunity meet," Sunderman said. "Do green products cost more on average in the PSP Wide-Format industry? With concrete evidence I would say, yes." Sunderman said large commercial print, screen printing and digital wide-format all face different levels of opportunity and market forces at unexpected times. "Commercial print and screen printing uses a lot of set-up sheets that either get thrown out or recycled, so here the opportunity is searching for ways to reduce your landfill waste and recycle, because in these forms of printing, you must make a set-up sheet to ensure print quality," he said. "However, for the digital wide-format industry, the opportunity I see is the ability to print on a larger variety of materials."

Although Sunderman pointed out that going green signals a major opportunity for businesses, most customers are unwilling to pay more. Thus a business must seek other ways to boost sustainability, such as changes to shipping and delivery processes employed by PSPs. "We use significantly less packaging on our products than we used in prior years," Macfarlane said. "When extra packaging is required, we use biodegradable bubble wrap and recyclable kraft paper. We reuse most boxes and packing material that comes with our deliveries. We order our supplies from the closest location possible and combine shipments." Macfarlane predicted clients will place a premium of sustainability in the coming years, and the prevalence of certification from organizations such as the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership will grow as PSPs seek ways to communicate their devotion to sustainability.

Self-Adhesive Labels Enter New Arena in Food Market
Labels & Labeling (11/02/12) Lejeune, Jules

Self-adhesive labels have helped make small, handheld disposable devices for detecting protein on surfaces in food preparation and packaging areas a reality. The Orion Clean Card Pro from Orion Diagnostica resulted from a more than five-year collaborative effort between label printer Auraprint Oy and the Technical Research Center of Finland. Self-adhesive labels boast a laminate of label facestock, adhesive and release-coated liner, which supplies high-quality print, an outstanding array of possible label shapes and sizes and fast, easy and accurate automatic dispensing. Furthermore, multiple labels may be applied in a single machine pass, security devices may be encapsulated in or under the label face and over-the-cap seals on such items as baby foods offer evidence of tampering.

The Orion Clean Card Pro test, wiped over a moistened working surface, reacts to any protein residue by changing color within half a minute. The presence of protein signals inadequate cleaning, which helps prevent the spread of food poisoning pathogens between food, surfaces and equipment. Some of Auraprint's older label presses were significantly tweaked to accommodate specific converting needs, and today the printer can produce the device in just one press pass on an adapted 10-color rotary letterpress machine, using four materials rolls, four printing units and three die-cutting units. "This is a challenging and complex process, because we must maintain equal tensioning of the four different material rolls accurately throughout the process, and at the same time keep the printing and die-cutting units in register," said Auraprint managing director Tero-Matti Kinanen.

"Without the self-adhesive label laminate, the Orion Clean Card Pro test would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to manufacture cost-effectively and efficiently in large quantities," Kinanen said. "Our familiarity with the self-adhesive label printing process was certainly a key factor in our success in delivering a first-class product to Orion Diagnostica."

CompTIA Introduces New Managed Print Trustmark
CompTIA News Release (11/05/12)

CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology industry, has introduced a new business-level credential for providers of managed print services solutions who commit to a code of conduct, industry-accepted best practices and high levels of customer service and support. The CompTIA Managed Print Trustmark is designed to qualify and differentiate organizations providing on-premise print services via a managed services business model.

Companies seeking the CompTIA Managed Print Trustmark are evaluated in several areas including the internal practices and procedures they use to run their business and the external activities and operations they engage in with customers and prospects.

"For some managed print providers, this exercise will validate that they are running their business in a manner that aligns with best industry practices," said Nancy Hammervik, senior vice president of industry relations at CompTIA. "For others, this will be an eye-opener and will provide them with clear direction on what they need to do better. The outcome we're seeking is to create higher service levels and lower costs for customers; and improved efficiency and profitability for providers."

Digital Printing

Creative Ideas on Paper
Quick Printing (11/12) Steele, Jeffrey

There is a renewed interest in the appeal of textured papers in varying colors and finishes, which is a boon to paper producers, print service providers and their marketing and advertising clients. "Colors, textures, something that's tactile really makes a difference these days," said Kristen Hogan with Neenah Paper. "It's a lot more memorable when people get something tactile that is printed on high-quality paper with an interesting texture." Ferk X. Goldinger of PSDA member Appleton Coated said the new appreciation for paper is partly thanks to a leveling out of cost-benefit equations.

Brian Cummins with Nekoosa Coated Products cited a poll studying how advertisers try to reach consumers, and which found the act of physically placing a printed piece in someone's hands through direct mail is still a highly effective brand awareness-building method. Paper product innovation also has been encouraged by shorter print runs facilitated by digital printing. "Printers can easily leverage their digital press investment by looking to materials for creative applications," said Mohawk's Chris Harrold. "Whether premium textured and colored papers and envelopes that capture attention in the mailbox, or synthetic substrates for more unusual applications like door hangers and waterproof menus — materials matter."

Goldinger believes inventiveness on the part of PSPs can be used to leverage creative new paper concepts. "For print providers, creativity is offering new capabilities and new technologies, knowing their clients' businesses, and finding ways to merge them," he said. For example, sales representatives might want to make nonprofit clients aware of how the use of differentiated paper produces results in direct mail fundraising campaigns. PSPs also should practice creativity in the packaging area, especially in view of the amount of digital finishing equipment currently available now for custom short-run packaging, according to Goldinger. "This opens up opportunities that once went solely to long-run package printing houses," he said.

Cummins expects that during the next few years the number of specialty substrates will grow. "Paper mills are being driven away from the commodity side of the business," he said. "That's especially true of those that aren't the biggest and best. Either these mills will change, become nimble, and find unique substrates that attract marketers, or they won't be able to compete, and will go out of business."

Print Technology

Cutting-Edge Packaging Technologies Prove a Major Driver in Retail Sales
Packaging Digest (10/01/12) Vol. 49, No. 10, P. 20 Pellingra, Sal

Packaging companies, material suppliers, converters, brands and retailers are looking to develop new technologies that will not just protect and provide information about products, but also interact directly with consumers. Quick Response (QR) Codes allow consumers to interact with packaging, and designers are still trying to determine the best strategies for using the technology, such as linking them to a coupon that could lead to a purchase in stores.

While designers have found creative ways to use QR Codes to communicate branding or messages to differentiate products, the industry is now looking to turn packaging into its own interactive product. Ballantine's has used an electroluminescent label with a graphic equalizer display on bottles, as part of its Listen to Your Beat campaign, and others in the liquor category also have introduced the label technology to their products. Holland has embedded bottles of its Medea vodka brand with a programmable scrolling LED, enabling consumers to customize their own unique message on the package. Augmented reality is the most exciting new interactive technology. As part of a 2010 World Cup tie-in, Pringles used the technology on cans, enabling consumers to control a shot on goal, and LEGOS used it on packaging to show consumers what they can build with its product.
Digital Packaging Is Getting Personal

Interested in learning more about personalized packaging? The November issue of Print Solutions is all about digital printing and packaging. Click here to read the issue.

The Sign Connection: Textiles Weaving into the Mainstream Sign Industry
Wide-Format Imaging (11/12) Manevitch, Lee

Technology has advanced to the point where small sign companies can compete in the expanding fabric and textiles market. Image dulling is one of the innate challenges of textile printing, but this problem has been marginalized by recent print technology innovations. Direct-to-textile dye-sublimation technology is more affordable now and removes the traditional dye-sublimation steps. Water-based sublimation inks are printed directly to the textile through the use of heavily modified printers. The ink is dried, and then the printed textile is put through an onboard heater that facilitates in-place ink sublimation.

Finishing is another obstacle that has traditionally impeded modest companies' move into textile printing, as fabric products require more steps and flawed results leave little option than to begin again. Signs Now created its own turnkey finishing solutions for textiles in collaboration with Global Imaging and Singer Sewing. A serger is highly recommended to trim printed textiles, and the specialized sewing machine trims the fabric and encloses the edge with stitches in a single step. This leaves a clean, finished edge on the fabric while also preventing unraveling that can occur if the edge is left exposed. Once trimming has been done, a sewing machine hems the edges or joins two panels together. Signs Now has standardized on a four-thread serger and a light industrial sewing machine, and the cost barely exceeds $500.

Marketing Services

Direct Mail Packs a Big Punch
Quick Printing (11/12) Hall, Bob

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) reported 50 percent of all printed material is still circulated through direct mail, and several industry surveys found mail remains a key component of most comprehensive marketing campaigns. Direct mail "is the top choice of U.S. and Canadian consumers for the receipt of brand communications in almost every category, ranging from health to household products, to household services, insurance and financial services, including credit card offers," according to an Epsilon Targeting study. "The preference for direct mail also extends to the 18-34 year old demographic." The study suggested, "Brands should use a variety of media to build relationships, starting with trusted channels like direct mail, then layering the message to reinforce it through other channels."

The GRAPH EXPO 2012 offered ample evidence direct mail remains as essential as ever. The expo's educational program emphasized direct mail heavily, with sessions covering the USPS, including proposed legislation that will impact the print, mail and fulfillment industries, and the technical, operational and business challenges printers will be confronted with in deploying Full Service Intelligent Mail. The most recent NAPL poll of quick and small commercial printers found 23.8 percent of printers listed mailing and fulfillment as the fastest growth area, ranking it fourth behind digital color static, wide-format color and digital color variable. The survey also found 27.6 percent of printers had made capital investments in mailing capabilities in the past three years, and 35 percent anticipate doing so in the next three years.

A recent Pitney Bowes survey found 76 percent of small businesses concurred that the ideal marketing combination features a blend of digital and physical communications, while 58 percent of respondents used multichannel marketing. The survey additionally found both direct mail and social media to be popular marketing options.
PSDA Blog

A recent post on the PSDA Blog discussed a recent communication study showing direct mail as highly popular. Click here to read the full post.

Connecting With Mobile Customers Through QR Codes
1to1media (10/29/12) Clark, Cynthia

Quick Response (QR) Codes are finding increased usage, with Competitrack estimating that the percentage of print ads containing a QR Code climbed from 1 percent in January to 6 percent in December. As more people switch to smartphones, QR Codes are expected to become even more popular. Among the companies taking advantage of QR Codes to communicate with mobile customers are the Stamford Symphony, Moore Brothers Wine and McDonald's.

The Stamford Symphony initiated experimentation with QR Codes in 2011, with executive Gina Ely noted that the first effort involved people clicking the codes in concert programs to get more event information. Following this, the symphony elected to incorporate Pitney Bowes' PB Smartcodes in all its print material. The Stamford Symphony has begun embedding the codes in information about its mini concerts and recitals. "Since we're feeling more comfortable using the PB Smartcodes, we're incorporating them in everything we do," Ely said. This includes integrating QR Codes into postcards sent to customers a few weeks prior to a concert. "It has given us visibility at a much greater scale," Ely observed. She said print ads in newspapers and magazines offering discounts to people who scan a QR Code have been very well received.

Last June, Moore Brothers commenced the placement of QR Codes on the labels of wine bottles sold in its stores in an attempt to exploit mobile to give additional information to customers. Co-founder David Moore said the company believed QR Codes would offer a prime opportunity to present tasting notes and video footage to mobile customers. Each QR Code connects to information about a specific wine bottle or the wine producer behind it. "We're giving added value and information to our customers in a different way," Moore pointed out.

Certain McDonald's markets have for some time been experimenting with QR Codes for promotional and information purposes, but the fast food giant opted to roll out a larger QR Code strategy during the London Olympics. McDonald's Matt Biespiel said QR Codes printed on cups and bags guide customers to a website where they can find nutritional information. "Our goal was to find an easy way for customers to connect with our brand and learn about food," he noted. Biespiel said the company intends to extend the use of QR Codes to its markets globally.


Interested in PSDA's print and digital advertising options? Download the new PSDA 2013 Media Planner for more information, including the Print Solutions magazine 2013 editorial calendar, ad rates and specifications. 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 (psda@psda.org) office at 800.230.0175 and talk with a member of our staff team.
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