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Posts filed under ‘Marketing’

Improve ROI with Variable Data Printing (VDP)

June 23, 2009

hereTo be profitable in any business you need a successful sales and marketing strategy that maximizes revenue and minimizes costs. It needs to provide a good Return on Investment for the business. Direct Marketing coupled with variable data printing provides a very cost effective way to personally approach customers and gain that return.

Variable Data Printing and Response Rates

The biggest benefit of Variable Data is the increase in response rates to your marketing products. A standard mailing piece, which is generalized for the mass public gets approximately a 2% response rate. When you add Variable Data elements into the mix you boost that number from 2 to 15 times the regular rate.  While the rates will vary across different industries and sectors, the general consensus is that Variable Data will 9 out of 10 times produce significantly better rates that age old mass mailings.

How’s it Work?

The effectiveness of Variable data printing lies in its ability to communicate to customers on a personal level because it combines the power of databases with digital printing to create customized marketing pieces efficiently and in large quantities. What you have then is mass customization marketing.

There are two ways to printing Variable Data pieces:

  • A shell is pre-printed in large quantities to gain the efficiencies of full-colour offset printing. This shell is then run through an digital press to print the variable elements such as names, addresses and other custom information.
  • The entire finished piece becomes a custom document run on a digital press which can translate into custom colours, graphics and text content in every piece.

Variable data can essentially be broken down into three levels:

  • Basic Variable Data: this involves changing just the name and address of the piece
  • Version Variable Data: A more detailed level of customization, with text and graphics ganging for groups based on marketing segment
  • Full Variable Data: Fully customized pieces change for each individual on the database.

Picking a Variable Data Printing Supplier

When partnering with a printer, consider their knowledge of variable data printing as well as other services they offer.

They should know:

-          Graphic specifications for best outcome and production efficiency

-          Paper stock

-          Limitations of large blocks of solid or gradient colour

-          Images resolution and gradient colour

-          How the design is affects the final product.

-          Etc

Variable Data Printing is just one step in your marketing process. Look for a printer who encompasses fulfilment services such as mailing, order fulfilment, and kit assemble etc. You want a Print Partner that will cater to your needs today as well as adapt to your needs in the future.

For help with your Variable Printing Project contact the Ultimate Printing Company.

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Maintaining the Customer Experience

May 28, 2009

customer-careThe challenging economy is putting consumer companies such as airlines, banks, and retailers in the difficult position of cutting back the service levels that customers have come to expect in recent years. These companies are closing retail locations, reducing hours of operation, and making do with less staff in stores and call centers. Meanwhile, faced with rising costs, they are also increasing prices, either overtly or through fees. As a result, our customer experience research shows that satisfaction scores are reversing the upward trend of the past few years and actually dropping in a number of industries.

So it’s not surprising that most executives think compromising service levels is a mistake. When senior executives from 11 leading service delivery companies were interviewed, all but one agreed that improving the customer experience is growing in importance to their companies, customers, and competitors.
How can consumer businesses make necessary investments in service while facing the pressure on revenues and costs? Our review of the companies with the best customer service records in ten industries suggests that one key is to minimize wasteful spending while learning to invest in the drivers of satisfaction. Specifically, companies should challenge their beliefs about service and test those beliefs analytically. Many will discover that long-held but seldom-reviewed assertions about what customers really want are wrong.
Consider service levels, specifically average time-to-answer, which is one of the most common metrics used in call centers. Service levels—often based on regulation or historical precedent—are set by call-center managers and then used to calculate staffing requirements. But service levels are challenging to maintain and costly to improve: raising them by 10 percent requires much more than a 10 percent increase in staff.
Companies that closely manage the customer experience have taken a rigorous approach to resetting service levels and, in some cases, are saving money without degrading them or customer satisfaction. In short, these companies have carefully measured the “breakpoints” to find their customers’ true sensitivity to service level changes. One company, a wireless telecommunications services provider, found that its customers had two breakpoints at X and Y seconds on a call; answering the phone immediately (less than X seconds) produced delight, while leaving customers on hold for longer (more than Y seconds) produced strong dissatisfaction (exhibit). Although customers were fairly indifferent to service levels between X and Y, the company’s average time to answer was only loosely managed between these two points.
The company considered raising service levels to the “delight breakpoint” or reducing them to just above the “patience threshold.” Customer-lifetime-value economics pointed to the second option: relaxing service levels but guarding against crossing the patience threshold. The drop in customer satisfaction was negligible, but the savings in staffing were significant, and the company ended up saving more than $7 million annually—much of which was reinvested in improvements to its problem-resolution process.
This scenario isn’t an isolated example. The same principles apply to setting up a new account, scheduling an appointment, answering a nonurgent e-mail, or having customers wait in line. In our experience, most companies that analyze their service levels carefully find that some wait times have become more important to customers than others and that overstaffing to hit service targets that customers don’t care about is costing them money.

At the UPC, we strive to improve our customer experience. We know the value of time and strive to get you your product in the fastest possible time. Our business cards are turned over in just 2-3 business days and 3-4 days for our 4×6 and 5×7 postcards. We recently completed a major booklet order of 6 booklets with 2100 copies each within just 1 week. So for your next major or minor order, get the satisfaction you deserve with the UPC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Successful Event Promotion

May 5, 2009


It’s All About the Fine Print

The print materials used to promote and coordinate an event may very well be the glue that keeps the production together.

Sounds a bit dramatic, right?

Dramatic but true. You can have the perfect venue, book the perfect act, and make sure that all the right people know what’s going down, but in the end, success is in the details, and when it comes to putting on a big production, this means your print material!

Start Strong

Consider getting started by making a list of all the stuff you’re going to need to get printed:

  • Posters

  • Flyers / Club cards

  • Tickets

  • Table tent displays

  • Hang Tags

  • Banners

  • Signs with information and directions to help people find their way around the event.

The list can go on and on. If you’re working with a sponsor, you’ll want to consult with them to make sure you cover everything that’s important to them. They might be providing you with their own print material, OR they might just assume that since they’re coughing up the cash, you’re going to deal with everything else. Crossed wires in this regard can be event-planner suicide, so beware!

The benefit of planning for your print materials early on is that you can send them all to your printer at the same time, and the larger the order, the more likely you are to swing a sweet deal. If your printer can, for example, print your posters and your tickets in the same run, then they can pass the savings in ink and paper on to you.

Printing all your event advertising and facilitating material at the same time also means that you design it all simultaneously. Your print material can help to define the style of your entire event, so it never hurts to have a consistent theme running throughout.

For example, having event tickets that look like mini versions of your advertising posters ensures that ticket-buyers carry a little ad for your event with them wherever they go. A colorful ticket that sends out the right kind of vibe can actually sell itself.

In fact, most print materials that are basically informative can be designed to reflect the style of your event and hence to help sell – not just tickets – but the particular mood or mindset that you’re hoping people will attend with.

Again, as an example, a slick, sexy design theme on all your print material makes sure that everyone will attend dressed to the nines and ready to party, while a tongue-in-cheek vintage design theme will encourage ticket-holders to show up strutting their own unique style and ready for anything.

Follow Through To the Big Night

Once you settle on a great design concept for all of your print material, you might even want to expand the range of influence that it can provide.

For example, instead of printing just one standard flyer, consider having a new design for every week leading up to the event. These flyers can act almost like mini news bulletins, offering ticket-buyers new information and building excitement surrounding your production to a fevered pitch.

Stickers can also be money in the publicity bank. Regardless of the subject matter, people love stickers. They want to have a bunch of them, and they want to stick them up all over the place.

Print companies like The UPC specialize in design and as well as a one stop shop for all your print needs. We can be an immense help in this area. So give us a call for your next event.

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Creativity and the Role of the Leader

April 14, 2009

The Idea in Brief

In today’s innovation-driven economy, understanding how to generate great ideas is an urgent managerial priority. And that calls for major doses of creativity. But many leaders assume creativity is too elusive and intangible to be managed.

It’s true that you can’t manage creativity. But you can manage for creativity, say innovation leaders and experts who participated in a 2008 Harvard Business School colloquium. Among their recommendations for fostering the conditions in which creativity flourishes:

  • Stop thinking of yourself as the wellspring of ideas that employees execute. Instead, elicit and champion others’ ideas.
  • Open your organization to diverse perspectives–by getting people of different disciplines, backgrounds, and areas of expertise to share their thinking.
  • Know when to impose controls on the creative process (such as during the commercialization phase) and when not to (during early-idea generation).

The Idea in Practice

To enhance organizational creativity, consider these practices:

Tap Ideas from All Ranks

  • Elicit ideas from people throughout your organization. Google’s founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page tracked the progress of ideas that came from them versus ideas that bubbled up from the ranks–and discovered a higher success rate in the latter category.
  • Motivate people to contribute ideas by making it safe to fail. Stress that the goal is to experiment constantly, fail early and often — and learn as much as possible in the process. Convince people that they won’t be punished or humiliated if they speak up or make mistakes.
  • Further engage people by being an appreciative audience. Asking questions about a project and providing even a word of sincere recognition can be more motivating than money.

Open Your Company to Diverse Perspectives

Innovation is more likely when diverse people come together to solve a problem. Even within the mind of an individual, diversity enhances creativity. Individuals who have multiple social identities–for instance, Asian and American, female and engineer–display higher levels of creativity when problems require them to draw on their different realms of knowledge.

The lesson? Avoid suppressing parts of people’s identity. For example, craft a culture where female engineers can feel comfortable wearing feminine clothing.

Protect Creatives from Bureaucracy

As a fresh idea travels through an organization toward commercialization, powerful constituencies often beat it into a shape that conforms to the existing model. Protect those doing creative work from this hostile environment by clearing paths for them around obstacles.

Know When to Impose Controls–and When Not To

The early discovery phase of the creative process is inherently confusing and inefficient. So don’t impose efficiency-minded controls during that phase. Instead, apply them when the game has moved from discovery to reliability and commercialization.

Know which phase you’re in, and ensure that people with the right skills (such as ability to manage the handoff to the commercialization phase) are involved in the right stages.

Create a Filtering Mechanism

For every idea with real commercial promise, there are dozens that aren’t worth pursuing. How to winnow out the bad from the good? Have people from a variety of disciplines, functions, and viewpoints act as filters. Also consider using business “accelerators” (outside companies that test product ideas) to gauge their potential.

About the Authors

Teresa M. Amabile is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School in Boston.

Mukti Khaire is an assistant professor at Harvard Business School. The authors gratefully acknowledge the participants in the colloquium “Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations of the Future,” whose contributions form the substance of this article.

Copyright (c) 2008 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved

 

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Start Your Marketing Engines- Proactive Marketing during a recession

January 20, 2009

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Let talk about the biggest topic on everyone’s mind at the moment; the recession. The economic situation of not just Canada but the entire world is putting a strain on every kind of business. So in order to balance out the situation we need to cut budgets, jobs, marketing etc? Right. Well, not exactly.

According to a 2005 report out of Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, “Turning adversity into advantage: Does proactive marketing during a recession pay off?” , for a company to be well positioned, an economic recession should not dictate cuts to the marketing budget but rather a more aggressive increase in marketing spending to establish superior business performance in the marketplace. The report surveyed 154 senior marketing executives to see why some firms boost their marketing especially during a downturn. “The study finds that firms entering a recession with a pre-established strategic emphasis on marketing; an entrepreneurial culture; and a sufficient reserve of under-utilized workers, cash, and spare production capacity are best positioned to approach recessions as opportunities to strengthen their competitive advantage.”
Reasons to Market More:

• If your competitors reduce their marketing then there’s less noise to compete with, and your campaigns will gain a louder, clearer voice
• Customers will be looking for those businesses who are still actively engaging with them, and delivering messages that are relevant to their changing needs
• Lowering brand awareness loses market share that’s hard to win back
• With customers spending less, every sale will be harder to win. Therefore it makes sense to market more rather than less

Four UPC Products to establish a competitive advantage through aggressive marketing.

1. Variable Data.
a. Our Variable data solutions can create a personalized piece to initiate that point of contact between you and your customer. As well, set up online trackback options to check the status of your products. Email or Call us for more information.

2. Flyers, Postcards & Brochures
a. These timeless products will always keep your product or business at the forefront of customer minds.

3. Poster & Banners
a. Boost your company’s culture through positive message posters within your work centers. People are very conscious of the times and positive messages go a long way to improve productivity and creativity.

4. Branding Your Company.
a. Print all your business cards, letterheads,& presentation folders with congruent themes to project a unified idea to your customers.

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