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The Anatomy of a Perfect Direct Mail Campaign

Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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Source: Data & Marketing Association

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What Can Risk Management Culture Save You?

Posted Thursday, March 30, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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Source: Federated Insurance

What Can a Risk Management Culture Save You?

Have you ever met a business owner who didn’t want to save money? Yet, the way some companies try to cut costs can have the opposite effect. With the economy leaving little room for error, trimming unnecessary expenses is the logical first step toward keeping more profit. Unfortunately, risk management is sometimes looked upon as one of those unnecessary expenses.

It could be that some businesses don’t fully recognize the benefits a risk management culture can have. Instead, owners may be discouraged by the amount of time and money needed to reach that point. Successful businesses, on the other hand, know that to avoid possible financial pitfalls, they need to reduce their exposure. They realize risk management, despite the time and financial investment it can require, can have overall economic benefits while creating a safer working environment.

Involvement is key

No company, no business owner is immune to the possibility of losses. Indeed, the act of running a business exposes owners to everyday risks, such as fire, vehicle accidents, or even fraud. Identifying risks ahead of time and then dedicating resources and effort to avoid them through aggressive risk management can help keep a business ahead of the game.

Why bother?

It may feel counterintuitive to believe that a risk management culture—the sum total of all the efforts, attitudes, and investments related to workplace safety and loss prevention—can actually improve your bottom line. But, investing in risk management can definitely have advantages:

First, by managing risk, your company could experience fewer insurance claims. That may equate to lower insurance premium.

Second, fewer claims means you also help reduce the “after effects.” Insurance is meant to cover the direct costs associated with a claim, such as property damage, medical bills, and legal expenses. What is often not anticipated, however, are the unexpected, “hidden” costs from a loss. For example, insurance may not cover the cost of hiring and training a replacement employee, lost productivity, negative publicity, higher premiums related to the loss…and the list goes on. These are typically out-of-pocket expenses and can quickly add up. It could take a lot of extra sales to recoup those losses.

Last, workers compensation claims often result in a higher work comp mod. Not only can this have an immediate effect on your premiums, the consequences could be felt for a long time.

Business owners who take risk management seriously understand its positive effect on their operations, both from employee well-being and financial standpoints. They see immediate value in being proactive. As one company risk manager put it, “There are many business owners who believe that risk management is too expensive. I would challenge them to put a pencil to it. I think they will be surprised that safety pays.”

Attending a Federated Insurance Risk Management AcademySM seminar can be an effective way to start or grow your risk management program. Upcoming 1- and 2½ -day sessions are posted at, or contact your local Federated representative for more information.

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Arnold Printing: Hiring Done Right!

Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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SOURCE: Barb Pellow w/InfoTrends /

Hiring qualified sales personnel is not an easy task. Often-quoted statistics indicate that at least 50% of the reps on most sales teams are below target performance levels. Furthermore, salesperson turnover hovers around 30% annually at many companies. Finding salespeople who are capable of consistently hitting or surpassing their sales targets can be the difference between success and failure for a print/marketing service provider.

When Arnold Printing (Cincinnati, OH) was faced with the challenge of finding and putting the right sales in talent in place, Owner Tim Arnold and Marketing Director Andy Cranmer took action and changed the hiring process. Established in 1910, the company has grown from its origins as a one-man print shop operating a hand-fed press out of a one-car garage to a 30,000-square-foot commercial printing plant that features state-of-the-art equipment in its prepress, pressroom, and bindery divisions. Arnold Printing’s capabilities also include digital imaging, WTP storefronts, and integrated marketing.

Obstacles to Success

Although Arnold and Cranmer were successful in their attempt to change their hiring process, they faced a number of challenges along the way. They identified the following obstacles when attempting to get the right sales staff in place. - Assessing sales reps’ true capabilities: Many salespeople are experts at selling themselves during a job interview, but you don’t always get what you expected once a person has been hired. - Recruiting top performers: The best sales reps are happy in their current jobs and not actively perusing job postings, but finding these reps can be a challenge. - Finding sales superstars: Most candidates for sales jobs are mediocre and don’t have a history of making their numbers. Companies often need to sift through a number of candidates to uncover those with true potential. - Overcoming the time pressure to fill an open sales position: When the clock is counting down on a quarterly target, the temptation to fill a position as quickly as possible can be very strong. Unfortunately, this strategy often backfires and results in less-than-optimal talent. - Defining the right characteristics for the job: The needs of print/marketing service customers have become more complex over the years. In turn, the skills that are deemed most desirable among reps have changed dramatically. In today’s market, the top sales reps must possess a mix of good interpersonal skills, technical know-how, and experience. This means that hiring the right person is more complex, and the stakes are also higher.

The Strategy

Like all print/marketing service providers, Arnold and Cranmer are continually searching for the perfect job candidates to fill their sales positions. Arnold Printing ultimately decided that retooling key elements of its hiring process was the best way to find and attract the right talent. This section highlights the steps that the company took to improve its hiring process.

1.Placed a Heightened Importance on Marketing and Communication Skills

The executives at Arnold Printing came to the conclusion that marketing and communication skills were more valuable than knowledge of printing processes. In Arnold’s and Cranmer’s experience, it’s easier to teach sales reps with great marketing and communications skills about adding value to communication initiatives than it is to train reps on marketing strategy. This realization led to a change in how sales reps were recruited and assessed. When hiring for sales staff positions, Arnold Printing now actively recruits marketing majors from area colleges or individuals with marketing experience. When the company has a sales position that needs to be filled, it reaches out to area schools with marketing programs and searches job sites and LinkedIn profiles for individuals with marketing experience.

2.Positioned Arnold as a Leading Company that Offers Opportunity

When it comes to hiring top sales talent, the competition can be brutal. Attracting the best job candidates starts with selling the benefits of working for your company. Potential hires want evidence that your company will support them with the necessary tools to achieve sales goals and deliver on promises made to customers. It is important to communicate your company’s value proposition to prospective sales hires in a compelling and differentiated manner, and your website is a great place to start. After all, this is the first place that a prospective sales hire will look to learn about your company.

Arnold Printing uses its website to demonstrate how it is unique, innovative, and customer-focused. The site defines the company as a provider of integrated marketing solutions, prominently features the “Imagination Delivered” tagline, and highlights that it partners with clients to deliver effective marketing tools and solutions. Another important positioning factor is how the company describes its open sales positions. When Arnold posts a job opportunity or provides an applicant with a job description, it is for a “Marketing-Focused Sales Position.”

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Does your website articulate what is unique about working for your company? Does it showcase the key products, solutions, and services that your firm offers to attract customers and generate new business opportunities? If not, it should!

3. Created Hiring Profiles to Improve Candidate Selection

The wrong hiring decision can be incredibly expensive, as it can result in significant financial losses in the form of lost bids, dissatisfied clients, a damaged company reputation, salary/benefit payouts, lost time spent on training, morale issues, and unemployment compensation. Given the downsides of a bad hire, it is important to realistically define the requirements of the position and the characteristics that the new hire most possess to meet those expectations. Cranmer explains, “We created a profile of the ideal candidate that included attitude, skills, and personality traits. Rather than just posting a job ad, we search for the people that meet our profile.”

4. Developed a More Rigorous Interview Process

To identify the best candidates for its sales staff, Arnold Printing implemented a more rigorous interview process. Both Arnold and Cranmer interview prospective hires. If they believe that the candidate has strong potential, they have that person come back for multiple interviews to ensure that they are not victims of a “single first good impression.” It is important that job candidates consistently show up on time, appropriately dressed, and ready to play. According to Cranmer, candidates are tested on their ability to sell value during the process. He explains, “I frequently hand a stapler to the individual and ask him or her to sell me the stapler. I listen very carefully to how they respond.”

Tim Arnold agrees that multiple meetings with prospective candidates can pay dividends. He elaborates, “You really get to know the person and understand what makes them tick. With the complexity of today’s printing industry, we need people who can deal with that complexity and truly build solutions for our customers. A single one-hour interview can’t give you that type of perspective.”

Job candidates are also given homework assignments. Applicants are given a list of questions and asked to provide written responses. The answers provide insight on perspective hires’ written communications skills and also uncover how they would handle business situations. Examples of homework questions include:

  • What are your 5 biggest strengths and how would you apply them to this position?
  • Describe a situation where you really messed up. How did you handle it and what did you learn from it?
  • How do you stay current on industry trends and products?
  • It’s 3:00 PM on your wedding anniversary and an important client suddenly changes a project deadline to today. What would you do?

Another homework project tests how a potential sales rep handles clients in the aftermath of major job mistake. Arnold and Cranmer ask job candidates to write a fictitious apology letter based on the scenario that the customer’s job was accidentally delivered to the wrong city. In addition, Cranmer frequently tests for the ability to identify opportunity. He explains, “I will give a job candidate a newspaper article about the opening of a new business and ask them to identify the potential communication opportunities for our company.”

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Arnold Printing’s thorough interview process provides managers with clear picture of potential sales reps on a number of levels, including:

  • Willingness to try new things
  • Ability to recognize opportunities
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to handle stressful situations
  • Level of persistence

5. Established a High-Quality Onboarding Process

Sales onboarding can mean different things to different people. Some people think it’s about getting the correct paperwork filled out when new hires first come in the door. Others view a good sales onboarding process as sharing as much information as possible with a new rep for a few days before throwing them into the field. The problem with not having a well-defined onboarding process is that by the end of their first week, many sales reps will feel overwhelmed, underprepared, and ill-equipped to successfully represent your product or service. Arnold Printing recognized the importance of establishing a solid onboarding process, so the company developed a program that includes following elements:

  • Arnold Printing created a welcome package that documents company procedures and staff roles so that new hires can quickly learn the “lay of the land” and who does what.
  • The new salesperson spends 2 - 3 weeks on the production floor learning the full breadth of capabilities, services, and products that Arnold Printing can provide to a customer. This includes spending time in the wide format, offset, digital, die cutting, and finishing areas.
  • The management team will introduce a new salesperson to an existing account and attend initial meetings with that rep.
  • At the conclusion of customer meetings, the manager will speak with the newly-hired salesperson about their perceptions and what they learned. From there, the management team and rep will brainstorm about the opportunities and ideas that can be shared with the customer.

According to Cranmer and Arnold, this thorough onboarding process for new sales reps has helped bring new hires up to speed faster while also resulting in better sales results.

The Bottom Line: Hire Right the First Time!

Business managers, particularly entrepreneurs and small business owners, have had a bad track record when it comes to hiring sales talent. When you hire the right sales resource, you will see instant results and amazing things can begin to happen. On the other hand, hiring a mediocre (or worse) salesperson can result in shelling out paycheck after paycheck for limited results. When it comes to hiring sales talent, we can all learn a lesson from Arnold Printing!

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Tell Legislature To Draw The Line On Paid Leave Regulations

Posted Friday, March 24, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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The House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports will hold a public hearing on HB 3087 at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 23. This bill is one of the top priorities of Family Forward Oregon and other advocacy groups, and they have launched a drive to recruit supporters to flood the Capitol for the hearing. We need your help to make sure that Legislators know that this is an important issue for employers, too.

Most businesses support the concept of family leave. Many already offer paid leave that can be used for extended family-related absences. But HB 3087 creates conditions that would make it costly and difficult for businesses - especially small ones - to plan and manage their operations.

Legislators need to hear how some of the requirements of HB 3087 would hurt employers and their customers. Among the more troubling aspects of HB 3087:

  • Every business in the state would be affected, even those with only one employee. Leave requirements are especially hard on small businesses, because they have fewer options for replacing workers who are off.
  • Employees would be able to request leave to provide care for a broad range of family members, including “an individual whose close association to the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” This vague wording would put employers in a difficult, legally vulnerable position.
  • The conditions under which leave can be granted are extensive, including not only parental leave, military leave and caring for a family member with a serious health issues but also any reason covered under ORS.659A.159, the statute that guarantees unpaid family leave.
  • The length of leave is generous - 12 weeks, with an additional six weeks for parental leave. Combined with the wide range of qualifying reasons, this could leave some small businesses short-staffed for much of the year.
  • Oregon employers would be required to help pay for this paid leave program, even though most similar programs in other states are funded only by employees.
  • Employers will be required to file annual reports to the Department of Revenue on employee hours worked and amounts due to the family leave fund. The time required to do this will impose additional hardship on small businesses that already are short-staffed.

Please consider writing or calling your representative. Be specific when explaining why HB 3807 is bad for your business. Emphasize that you still are adjusting your operations to account for mandatory paid sick leave, a higher minimum wage, and other new regulations.

If you don’t know your state representative, you can find him or her here.

You may also direct your comments to the House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports:

  • Representative John Lively (D-Springfield), Chair

  • Representative Jodi Hack (R-Salem), Vice Chair

  • Representative Carla Piluso (D-Gresham)

  • Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley)

  • Representative Cedric Hayden (R-Roseburg)

  • Representative John Huffman (R-The Dalles)

  • Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland)

  • Representative Sheri Malstrom (D-Beaverton)

  • Representative David Brock Smith (R-Gold Beach)

To view the above bill, you may go to the Oregon Legislative Information System.

If you would like more information on the bill or the work session, please contact Betsy Earls.

Betsy Earls | Vice President & CounselAssociated Oregon IndustriesP: 503.588.0050 | E: 1149 Court Street NE | Salem, OR 97301-4030 |

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Tips on Strengthening your Company's Cybersecurity

Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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Source: PPI Partner ASI

In a scant few years, terms like hacker, ransomware and botnets have become as commonplace – and as unsettling – as cybercrime itself. With the World Economic Forum estimating the economic cost of cybercrime to be $3 trillion worldwide, with costs expected to double by 2021, even small companies need to double down on their efforts to protect themselves and their clients.

The increasing importance of cybersecurity prompted ASI to expand our global security program and create a new online “sheriff” – Seth Kusiak, a 16-year veteran of the promotional products industry, who was recently promoted to VP of infrastructure and security services.

Data breaches and other online security problems can arise any number of ways, from nefarious overseas hackers, computer viruses and poor security to accidental publication and lost or stolen devices. To help ASI members and their employees better understand what companies worldwide are facing in this new era of cyber defense and cybercrime, I’ve prepared a short Q&A, along with some tips on protecting your home and office computers:

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Q: What does cybersecurity mean to ASI?

A: Security’s always been integral to ASI’s information services team, but we’re strengthening our commitment to a security-focused and application-delivery platform. Our expanded focus includes implementation and oversight of an expanded global security program addressing compliance and insurance, governance, information security policies, incident response, threat modeling, risk analysis and security awareness.

Q: How have threats evolved in recent years?

A: Surprisingly, threat actors use the same techniques they used 15-20 years ago. But technologies continue to evolve and there are more internet-connected devices than ever before, from computers and mobile phones to consumer electronics like “smart” appliances, which can be easily hacked thanks to lax security. Second, the rise of Bitcoin has made it possible for criminals to get paid more reliably and with little risk. Third, threat actors from various foreign countries pursue U.S.-based victims because it’s easy money and there are few criminal consequences.

Q: How does ASI distinguish between different types of cyber-attacks?

A: Security-conscious organizations like ASI go through a process known as threat modeling to identify threats, objectives and vulnerabilities that apply to our systems, network and apps. We prioritize and define countermeasures to prevent or mitigate identified threats. As you might imagine, this is a very tedious process that’s ever-evolving and ever-changing. A threat that may be innocuous today may evolve into one that causes us to drop everything to address it. Our threats are very different than those in financial, government or healthcare.

Currently, the most prominent security threat is social engineering – the art of manipulating people to give up confidential financial, personal or company information to attackers who will use it to their own benefit.

Q: How will cyber security – and threats – evolve in the next few years?

A: To be honest, we haven’t yet hit a low point in regards to security-related incidents, as frightening as that sounds. Things will get worse before they get better (but they will get better). This year, companies throughout the world can expect more large-scale data breaches, significant increases in ransomware infections, more critical software vulnerabilities and widespread internet outages due to cyber-attacks. Looking beyond, we’ll likely see more sophisticated social engineering attacks driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). We’ll also see more businesses impacted. Just recently, Verizon’s $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo was put on hold due to Yahoo’s massive data breach.

On the positive side, technology companies are starting to get it and are focusing on improving the security of their products and services. The security community is very active in pushing for better security and privacy by calling out vendors for poor security, which is having a positive impact.

Q: How can I guard against cyber threats?

A: Think before you click. Carefully review emails before responding or clicking links.Don’t reuse passwords across multiple sites or applications. When a data breach takes place, criminals attempt to use the stolen passwords to access other sites.Enable two-/multi-factor authentication on your accounts, including banks, social media and any other account that offers it.

Don’t install software from unknown sources, especially stolen/pirated software.Be careful when giving permission for apps to access your accounts. For example, by generating a “What kind of cat are you” Facebook post, you may inadvertently give those apps permission to access your profile information or even the ability to post to your accounts.Keep your software updated with security patches.

If you’re interested in more information on what’s ahead, I suggest reading a Wired magazine article on the biggest security threats facing us in 2017 – and keeping watch for emails from ASI about the cybersecurity webinar we’ll be offering in coming months.

My last piece of advice is a variation on an old newspaper adage about confirming information from sources: Even if your own mother emails you, check it out before you click it. Be vigilant and be safe.

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