If You Really Understand Your Brand, You Can Sell on Value, Not Price

Posted by Katherine O’Brien, American Printer-GC WorldBiz

Do you have high quality, good pricing and attentive customer service? These are all great things, but unfortunately virtually every company can make these claims. “It’s not what or how a company does something, but why they do it that way,” says Ryan T. Sauers, President/Owner of Sauers Consulting Strategies.

Sauers, who spent 20 years running offset printing operations prior to launching his consulting firm, has first-hand experience in dealing with industry realities such as commodity pricing. “You can’t sell on price,” he says. “There’s got to be value in what you are selling, the value in the ingredients that make up your brand. Why would people pay more for your work? What’s your brand and expertise?”

On February 21, 2013 in Orlando, Sauers will help  Graphic of the Americas’ (GOA) attendees understand their BRAND aka the Barometer reading of their Reputation, Attribution and Distinctiveness. Sauers’ Thursday seminar is called “So What? Why You? Who Cares?” “Attendees will be challenged to re-examine what organizations could look like and become,” he explains. “They’ll be challenged to understand and articulate the Differentiating Sales Factor.”

5 Branding Considerations

According to Sauers, once you know what your brand is you can determine the ways you want to purposefully grow, change, re-frame, promote, and/or strengthen your current brand position.! Here are five things to keep in mind.

1. Please refrain from saying that “print is not dead.” Of course it isn’t dead. It has simply changed—as has the entire world.

“I argue that print is more useful than ever,” says Sauers. “Trust me. I spend a lot of time in the social media world and doing marketing research.”

2. Please don’t get caught up with the fact that you feel you must refer to yourself as an MSP (marketing services provider). “Personally, I dislike this term… unless of course you are an excellentmarketing organization,” Sauers says.

3. Please don’t become overwhelmed with social and emerging media.  “Always remember it is all about the psychology—notthe technology and these are simply new ways to communicate—if you use them correctly. They are a tool—not the tool—in your marketing mix.”

4. Determine what you are best at. Embrace it and then build and promote your brand around it. Shout it from the mountain tops. Print it. Email it. Tweet it, etc. But always be authentic in everything you do.

 5. Remember, your brand is that “extra value” you provide and the reason a customer stays with you over similar competition and other offerings in the market.  Says Sauers: “When pondering your brand, you must first determine what it is all about. So obtain feedback from those around you as a first step. Be sure to obtain this feedback from those close to you as well as those who are more removed from you.”

Marketing Ideas You Can Copy – try these simple ideas in your business

Posted by Judy Schramm

How to Use QR Codes in Retail and Restaurant Marketing

0I rarely visit a nearby giant mall, so I don’t know where the stores are located. Whenever I go to there, I head straight to the map first thing. Rather than memorizing the locations of the stores I want, I use my phone to scan the QR code on the map to take it with me.

This is QR code in action doing what it does best: giving businesses a way to help customers take an offline source online and mobile. It saved me the time of using my phone to search for the mall’s directory on its not very mobile-friendly website.

While some customers haven’t adopted QR codes, it’s a helpful tool. QR codes take little space and you can provide a service to customers who use them. Even teachers are getting in on QR codes. At a recent school open house, each teacher posted a QR code for parents to scan to get the teacher’s contact information.

Using QR codes in retail and restaurants

Here are some ideas of what retail and restaurants can do with QR codes:

  • Share basic information. This includes address, phone number, website URL, social media URLs and hours of operation.
  • List products. Restaurants can post menus, while retailers can list brand names and products sold in the store. If possible, include pricing so customers know what to expect. You don’t have to change the QR code every time you change prices. Create the QR code to deliver a document or a web page. Then, all you need to update is the document or web page.
  • Offer discounts. Customers who scan the QR code can get a code word or instructions for getting discounts.
  • Collect customer feedback. You can put a QR code on your menu or next to your cash register. Use the QR code to take customers to a mobile-friendly form (preferably a short one) that allows them to give you feedback about their experience.

What NOT to do with QR codes

Watch out for the following:

  • Lack of explanation for the QR code. Just posting the QR code and hoping people’s curiosity will compel them to scan isn’t enough. Give them an idea of what to expect when they scan it:
    • Scan for contact information and operating hours.
    • Scan for offers.
    • How’s our service? Scan to share your feedback.
    • Scan for our menu.
    • Scan for items we carry.
  • Create tiny or giant QR codes. We’ve seen some QR codes smaller than a dime. Phones can’t always successfully scan something that small. They should be at least the size of a quarter. But not huge. Creating a large QR code may be troublesome because customers have to work harder to capture it on the small screen.
  • Send traffic to the wrong place. If your QR code just sends people to your home page, that’s not helpful. Remember people scan QR codes on their mobile devices. You want to deliver something they can use while they’re mobile.
  • Fail to optimize for mobile devices. Whether your code sends people to a web page, form or something else, ensure it’s easy to see and use on a mobile device.
  • Put the QR code in an accessible place. The first time I saw the QR code on the map at the mall, it was over eight feet up! I was grateful when they redesigned the map and moved the QR code in a much lower spot.
  • Publishing the QR code on the website. What’s the point? One reason for doing that would be to share it with coworkers, franchises and others who might need it to use in their publications.

Going Beyond Price: 10 Key Buying Criteria For Trade Show Displays

Posted by Mike Thimmesch, TSNN

When you’re shopping for your next trade show display, it’s all too easy to focus just on the price.  After all, price is easy to judge – whoever costs the least, wins.

And yet, price is not the same as value.  When you buy based on value, you find that spending a little more money may get you a lot more value in return.

So here are 10 other criteria beyond price that experienced exhibit buyers know to look for.

Let’s start with the display:

1.  Quality:  Be careful about buying a disposable display online, only to last for a show or two.  A high-quality display will look great at your first show with its better fit and finish, plus look great longer with more durable materials and smarter engineering.

2.  Total Cost of Ownership:   Look beyond just the initial purchasing price.  Over the course of the life of the exhibit, you will spend – and potentially save – much more on exhibit shipping, drayage, I&D, storage, and refurbishing.  Get an estimate for the life of your exhibit, about 3 to 5 years.  You will be surprised how much an innovative modular exhibit can save you.  Your exhibit house should know when to offer exhibit rental to further stretch your budget.

3.  Flexibility:  How stuck are you with that exhibit shape you see in the rendering?  Will you be able to easily change your booth size up or down, and change your graphics to fit your evolving marketing messages?   If your initial display is not flexible, it may force you to buy another.

4.  Functionality:  Your trade show booth is more than a billboard; it’s also a work space.  Therefore, your exhibit needs to work for your trade show objectives and support your staff.  So if you need product demo spaces, storage, monitor mounts, meeting areas, wire management, leads slots, and the like, make sure that’s included in the designs you are considering.

Now, consider the factors relating to who you buy your exhibit from:

5.  Customer Service:  With your hectic schedule, buyers require a supportive exhibit house that returns your calls promptly.  Their responsiveness saves you time.  The best vendors genuinely want to help you long-term, because they have your best interests at heart.  A service-oriented exhibit house will even travel with you to your biggest shows to ensure your success, and has team members everywhere to help you away from home.

6.  Design For Marketing Results:  While anyone can “make it pretty,” you need an exhibit house that has shown it knows how to help you build your brand, generate sales leads, and boosts your trade show ROI.  They know how to translate your marketing objectives into a creative exhibit that gets attention and supports your booth staff.  They help your company win more business at trade shows.

7.  Trade Show Marketing Expertise:  While not brain surgery, trade shows are harder than they appear at first.  Find a vendor who freely shares their knowledge about what works in trade show marketing, and gives you expert guidance all along the way.

8.  Industry Knowledge:  An exhibit house that is more than just a builder, but also has demonstrated success for exhibitors in your own industry.  They know your show, your vertical market, and even what appeals to your buyer.

9.  Wide Selection:   Save some more time and get a better fit for you with a vendor that can be a one-stop shop for all your needs – from tabletops and portable inlines, to island exhibits of varying sizes.  So with just one call you get it all.

10.  Online Asset Management:   Because you don’t have time to wrestle with your exhibit assets anymore, innovative exhibit houses provide an online tool to manage your assets, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  So you can say where you want your exhibit to go without the stress and hassle of phone tag and voice mail.

Buying a trade show exhibit is a big decision for a trade show marketer.  You are committing to a look that will define your company at its key industry shows, you are investing in a tool to help grow your business, and you are choosing a vendor who will make or break your success.

So when you are shopping for your next trade show display, consider value instead of price.  You may just find that it’s not how much it costs that matters, but how much it’s worth.

Textbook Case: Before You Say What You Think, See What Your Customers Say

Posted by Katherine O’Brien, GC WorldBiz

How well do you know your customers? Often, we find it easier to go with what we think they want vs. their actual desires. Why does this happen? Probably because our suppositions seem logical—so logical that we never test or challenge them. And sometimes we focus on one stakeholder without considering other equally important players.

I thought of this as I read “For Many Students, Print is Still King.” According to author Jessica Howard, “Even [textbook] publishers that have invested more heavily in new digital features say they’re not doing away with books but making them part of ‘customizable learning experiences,’ to borrow a phrase from Pearson, the biggest player in the field.”


Other quotes that caught my eye:

“The vast majority of students still prefer print,” says Michael Wright, director of college sales at Norton. “…As people become more sensitive to the overall costs of higher education, these are seen as a good value, so that’s part of their staying power.”

“We still print everything,” says Jerome Grant, the company’s chief learning officer for higher education. Pearson’s aim is not “to bias print or digital but to offer the experience in multiple formats.”

“Our students don’t really want to have e-books,” says Julie K. Bartley, an associate professor of geology and chair of the geology department at Gustavus Adolphus College. “What I hear from them a lot of times is that they feel some sort of comfort in being able to hold the thing in their hands.”

Students’ major concern about textbooks isn’t format but cost. “Probably the second biggest complaint in northern Minnesota after the weather is the cost of textbooks,” Bartley says.

“We’ve found that, at least so far, students are not terribly interested in the e-books,” says Tanya C. Noel, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Windsor, in Ontario. “That surprised me at first because I thought students would want something they could access on their mobile devices.”

Howard reports that Norton’s editorial team plans to offer a digital edition of the company’s biggest seller when it creates one it’s satisfied with. “The big question in creating digital Norton anthologies is, how you replicate the reading experience?” says Julia A. Reidhead, editorial director of Norton’s college department. The company wants digital editions to share the distinctive aspects of its workhorse print volumes, with their annotations and a format “that keeps the student focused on reading.” Digital permissions are a hurdle, too.


It would be easy (and logical) to assume that digital savvy students would gravitate toward e-books. Apparently, however, some things don’t change. Modern college students may have smart phones and tablet computers but most are still stocking their dorm rooms and apartments with ramen noodles. And most textbook publishers want flexibility—print as well as other options. (But as new e—platform developers court the “old school” publishers, things will really get interesting.)

The moral of the story? Don’t let your preconceived notions give you tunnel vision. Seek an objective perspective. And if you find evidence that supports your view (print is great, even college students prefer printed textbooks) spend equal time evaluating a contrarian view, such a  German study that found a person’s preference for the printed book is not an indicator of how fast and how well the information is processed. Most importantly—ask your customers what they want—and then give it to them!