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Ten Ways for Print Salespeople to Gain Customer Loyalty

Posted Friday, February 9, 2018 by Jules VanSant.

By Joe Rickard via Intellective Solutions

alt textMost successful salespeople and marketers use the “rule of reciprocity” when working with their customers. This time-honored tenet simply means that customers will return favors they have received. One should not think of this rule as a method of manipulating customers, but more as applying the “golden rule”. That means to treat customer as you would want to be treated.

In the graphic communications industry, we commonly see suppliers and print providers shower their top customers with trips to headquarters, customer events, business development resources and business insights. The “rule of reciprocity” draws on a powerful human tendency for customers to respond to a perceived gift from a supplier. There has been ample research in many areas of human interaction that confirms this process.

In his popular book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert B. Cialdini shares research and information that describes the power that reciprocation has on impacting customer behavior. It explains why so many great salespeople and companies expend time and money to provide offers and added value to customers.

For the best results, salespeople must be more than courteous, generous and kind. It requires a deep knowledge of the customer’s needs and wants, followed by a response.

Successful Marketers and Salespeople Use The “Rule of Reciprocity”. Some large suppliers within our industry have been successful in creating a sense of obligation with customers by providing first-class venues where products and services are demonstrated or presented. This has helped establish long-term loyalty. And for individual salespeople and small businesses with limited marketing budgets, very small actions and favors can have the same large impact on sales performance. Though lavish lunches and high cost events have lost favor with most buyers, there are some much less costly ways to provide “valuable gifts” to customers.

Here are ten examples of how printing salespeople can influence customers using the “rule of reciprocity”.

-Apply the “Golden Rule”- Simply treating every customer as you would want to be treated pays dividends. Being on time, living up to commitments, taking accountability for problems and following up are becoming increasingly rare. The simple act of treating your customer with respect can be a low cost differentiator from your competition.

-Create first class customer knowledge events- A great way to gain loyalty is by offering timely and impactful customer events. Every company should provide at least one event a year. There is no better way for customers to learn about new products, services and applications. Spending entertainment money wisely, along with providing valuable information for customers, will gain a disproportionately high return.

-Help with business development- Getting inside and helping build profitable applications provides a huge value to customers. Not only are customers appreciative of the support, they will repay the salesperson with more business.

-Give a gift- Providing small and relevant gifts is often well appreciated. Gifts such as business books and company promotional items are still welcomed by customers. A thoughtful gift will be remembered.

-Give them content- Providing relevant case studies, research and examples of high impact business successes helps customers reach their goals. For time- starved customers, receiving relevant and timely content is well appreciated.

-Get personal- Taking the time to know and show interest in a customer’s career objectives, personal challenges and interests is useful in developing a productive business relationship. For instance, participating in a customer’s favorite charity event can be a great way to gain loyalty.

-Provide useful insights- Time is precious. Customers appreciate salespeople who can make them more successful by providing high impact recommendations and suggestions on how they can improve their business. A salesperson who knows their customer’s business is invaluable.

-Give free education- Millennials love educational opportunities. Offers to teach customers about substrates, color, winning applications, file management and cross media workflows are a few knowledge areas that print providers can offer.

-Take them out to the ball game- Knowing what is important to customers and accompanying them to sports events, concerts and restaurants is still a great vehicle to share business knowledge and build business relationships.

-Stay current- Sharing the latest in technology trends and applications is an important “gift” that salespeople can provide. With all the changes taking place in business, no customer can stay on top of what is going on without some help.

Applying the “rule of reciprocity” in all customer interactions is a powerful business approach that provides a huge ROI in time and money. Do not treat the “the rule of reciprocity” as a one-time event. Like many other things in selling, many customers have short memories… keep on giving. If done sincerely with the customer’s best interest in mind, it is very difficult for any customer to resist.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions ( is a consulting and training company. They work with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness. Joe can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS

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Prioritize Safety to Prevent Print Related Injuries

Posted Friday, February 9, 2018 by Jules VanSant.

From the Printing Industries of America

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In the latest data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics covering fiscal year (FY) 2016 (October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016), the injury and illness rate per 100 full time employees has increased.

The rate of total recordable cases for printing and related support activities increased from 2.3 in FY2015 to 2.6 in FY2016. Although printing is below the 3.6 recordable cases for all manufacturing, the increase reverses the year over year decline that had been experienced in the past.

To see how your company’s injury and illness rate compares to the industry average visit (PIA login is required. Contact the Association if you need login credentials.)

This increase in conjunction with OSHA classifying the printing industry as a high hazard for amputations, means that safety is not a priority. Now more than ever, a robust safety program is vital for a compliant printing facility.

Members should contact PIA’s EHS Affairs Department at for assistance with establishing an effective safety program.

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Grow Profits Through Management Practice

Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Kernin L. Steinhauer, Brand Manager JYBE, llc. - A business enhancement and PPI Member company.

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Want to learn more? Kernin is also presenting a Webinar, How Your Workforce Can Fatten Your Bottom Line.

Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Time: 11:00am - 12:00pm PST

Click Here for Webinar and Registration Information

Every industry endures Cycles of Influence. In the graphic communications industry the 80’s was the Quality Improvement (TQC, TOC) Cycle followed by the Pre-press Digital Workflow Cycle in the 90’s. Then the new millennium brought the Consolidation Cycle. Most recently, enabling technology investments have advanced automation in pre-press, print and finishing operations, the core operations of a printing company, which we call the Automation Cycle.

As a manager and industry consultant over the years my duties afforded me the opportunity to not only embrace the Cycles of Influence head on but to truly understand process and make a dramatic impact on profitability. Interestingly enough, the Cycles of Importance were only a part of the solution. We changed our perspective, accepted a paradigm shift, and visualized the printing company as both a job shop manufacturing environment and service provider to an unknowing and uncaring customer base.

With a new perspective and a tool belt of experience in leading pre-press, print and manufacturers we discovered the importance of achieving a Synchronous State and it’s impact on reducing defects, delays and cost.

To visualize the effect of achieving a Synchronous State first think of your company as a series of invisible conveyors starting at order entry and ending when you get paid for finished goods. On the conveyor are pieces and parts, either physical or virtual that result in billable finished goods. Now, visualize those pieces and parts as dollars.

The first premise is the faster the conveyor the shorter the cycle time.
The second premise is never work on something you cannot complete.
The third premise is the smaller the batch size the faster it moves.
The fourth premise is dependent events dictate process flow.The last premise is to manage constraints and maximize resource utilization.

Here’s an example to ponder: When labor or machine time (WIP dollars) are spent working on something that cannot be completed that time is gone from your capacity forever. It cannot possibly be recovered and is removed from the conveyor waiting to be placed back upon it when it can be completed. To add a bit of clarity to the example, assume that there were other things on the conveyor that could have been completed, shipped and invoiced, but were not.

The example provided is a very common occurrence in printing companies which results in a start-stop-start workflow that builds Work in Process (WIP) inventory ($$$ on hold). When the inventory build up is finally resolved the result is little to no work in some operations.

By contrast, a Synchronous State has every resource, human or machine, working on only what needs to be completed and placing it on the conveyor for the next dependent event to completion. The result is a perfect harmony of hand-offs, from one operation to the next, all the way to invoicing.

How do you get there? Every person in the company must know exactly what to work on and what priority it has on the conveyor.

Of course, the science is in synchronizing the rhythm of market demand while governing capacity, availability and resource flexibility through management actions.

A Synchronous State (your entire company in synch) delivers systemic efficiency, increased overall capacity and improved bottom line results.

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The Importance Of The Personal Brand

Posted Monday, February 5, 2018 by Jules VanSant.

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By Christopher Ebmeyer via LinkedIn

I recently went through a self brand evaluation for a project I was working on, and it was one of the most eye-opening things I could have done when it came to my personal brand, how my brand is perceived, pros and cons and areas of opportunity. It was life-changing to say the least.

Every one of us is a brand, and everything that we are, do and say contributes to our brand. From the job we do, to the car we drive, or the tattoos we get, EVERYTHING plays a role in your brand. One of the classic mistakes is to believe that a shiny logo and witty tagline will make a brand. No, a brand is formed in the minds of your consumers, and they have buckets just waiting to be filled with perceptions of what your brand means to them, and that includes your personal brand as well.

If you haven’t done it, now is the time to take a close look at your own brand and see how it compares with what you really desire it to be. It takes a bit of work, but when you can identify the dissonance between self perception and “consumer” perception, the faster you can make adjustments to align it to what you want.

It’s a 5-step process:

  1. Define your brand. List achievements, key skills, attributes and where you are now. Write it down.
  2. External perception. Ask colleagues, partners, friends and family to ANONYMOUSLY help you get a fix on how you are perceived. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do they value most? What are you good at? Use SurveyMonkey or another form of gathering feedback. Don’t just get the folks who sing your praises, you need constructive feedback!
  3. Compare. Once you get feedback, compile it and measure it up to what your original perceptions were (remember the list you wrote down?) See where you were spot on, and where you need some help to achieve parity with what you perceived your brand to be originally.Map out a plan. Once you have the areas that need more focus, list out some key, tangible and concrete steps to elevate your brand. It could be attending a conference, responding to email more quickly, or just delivering what you said you would, when you said you would. Create goals and timelines to get it done.
  4. Vision. A brand does not sit around and let the world pass it by, nor should your own. Create a list of 5-10 things you see down the road for you personally. Hopes, goals, dreams. See how you can use your brand to achieve those goals, and how they will help you to enhance your personal brand in the process.

Sometimes it’s hard to step outside of yourself and look back at what your personal brand is now, but once you put in the work to analyze that brand, and put the tools in place to build that personal brand, anything is possible.

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Reading Preferences and Habits of U.S. Consumers

Posted Monday, February 5, 2018 by Jules VanSant.

alt text By Phil Riebel via

The consumer survey, “Print and Paper in a Digital World,” highlights interesting consumer trends on reading preferences and habits related to print vs digital.

The recent Toluna survey commissioned by Two Sides showed that 62% of U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 to 55+ preferred to read books in print vs electronic devices, including 63% of the youngest age group (18 to 24 year-olds). Both groups strongly agreed (72-73%) that reading a printed book is more enjoyable than reading a book on an electronic device.

Reading magazines showed a difference between the overall consumer response (66%) and the 18 to 24 year-olds (56%) although both still prefer print to digital. When asked if reading a printed magazine is more enjoyable than reading a magazine on an electronic device, the overall response was 73% and the younger group response was 66%.

Clearly, many of us enjoy reading in print when it comes to books and magazines, but the survey showed that news consumption habits are changing.

A total of 74% overall and 81% of 18 to 24 year-olds say they read news on a tablet, smartphone or computer at least once per week. Overall, 63%, and less than half of the younger age group (46%) also say they read a printed newspaper at least once a week.

The younger the reader, the more likely they are reading news on e-devices, with only 35% of the 18 to 24 year-olds preferring to read newspapers in print (vs digital) while the overall response was 61% in favor of print. However, when consumers were asked if reading a printed newspaper is more enjoyable than reading a newspaper on an electronic device, the responses were higher: 56% for the younger age group and 65% overall.

When asked if reading news in a printed newspaper provides a deeper understanding of the story, the overall response (71%), was very similar to the response of the younger age group (68%).

According to recent studies in the United States and Norway, participants read faster online and thought they understood better than when reading in print but in fact, their overall comprehension was better for print. While it was no problem to get the main idea of the text when reading online, for specific questions, students answered more accurately when they read printed texts. For example, those who read in print gave more correct answers to questions having to do with the timing of an event in the text or how long it lasted than those who had read the story on a Kindle.

Evidence of consumer enjoyment of printed media is even evident at a very young age. The New York Times tried out a print-only section for kids in May 2017 which included sports, national news, food, opinion and arts and mimicked regular sections in the paper. The Kids section was so popular that the NYT will start producing it monthly in January 2018. Meanwhile, in the UK, a weekly full color tabloid for 7 to 14 year-olds called First News has been enjoying year-on-year growth for the past five years.

The full global survey report and key US findings can be accessed at:

For a free print copy of the report, contact Two Sides at

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