printForum Blog

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Free Education is Key to Loyalty

In today’s world, nothing is free. The ketchup or BBQ sauce that used to be included in your McDonald’s meal is now 25 cents in addition to your meal. The refills of your drink at a restaurant are also an additional charge. The extra bags at the airport, same thing. In a world where everything has an additional cost, we should want to give our clients something valuable for FREE. At Rider Dickerson, we settled on something we believe is extremely powerful.

We have worked diligently to create a platform that offers free education to our clients. Many of you know about printForum and may have even attended one of our events. While building our educational brand over the past six years, we knew that printForum had to be something that was free and that our clients would see the value in. Every day our social media profiles are pushing out free educational information to our followers. From white pages to educational articles on the latest trends, it is available at our client’s fingertips. In addition to our social media platforms, printForum also has its well-known bi-monthly educational magazine. Every other month Rider Dickerson mails out our free educational (no-sales) magazine to our clients for free. Every single one of our clients is eligible to sign up to receive our magazine. Furthermore, just this year, Rider Dickerson began sending out monthly, educational newsletters – eprintForum. Signing up to receive those emails is also, you guessed it, FREE.

Many of you may wonder why we provide our clients all of this amazing educational information at no charge. Well, Rider Dickerson has always believed in the importance of building loyalty and long lasting relationships. Besides, who doesn’t love something that is free? Just a quick example, every year Rider hosts its annual printForum conference. Over the past six years, 80 percent of those who have attended have been repeat attendees! That stat is amazing!! Not only do our clients see the value of our events, but many come back every year for more!

Providing free educational materials may not seem like a big deal, but to our clients who are interested in learning and who regard our company as a resource, it means a lot. Rider Dickerson is in such a competitive industry that bringing free education to our clients is another way we provide extra value. At the same time, we’re building loyal relationships with clients too. We are very proud of our belief in continuing education and see the value in being a resource for our clients. If you are interested in finding ways to add value to your clients, lets’ talk.

Megan Kucala

Business Development

Choosing Print Over Digital

I know what you’re thinking as you roll your eyes: Another blog written by a person in print telling you to “choose print, buy print!” I get it, but in all honesty, I am not the only millennial who feels this way. In my house, I have two young kids. Print is king! We read books, color in coloring books, and make posters for lemonade stands. I try to limit their screen time (in reality, that’s easier said than done). When you have to concentrate and need a few minutes of quiet time, handing the phone over seems like a good option.

And this is exactly why I wrote about this topic. Listen to this amazing story.

One day when I was watching my kids play, my two-year-old son took my phone, unlocked it, swiped to find the folder labeled with his name (he can’t read yet) and launched his games. WHAT?! My mouth just about hit the floor. (I have never given him my phone to open it by himself before.) Seriously, this is the society we live in? Where kids can operate a phone before the age of two but cannot tie their shoes? I was stunned and knew I couldn’t be the only parent whose child did this. I do not want my kids growing up in a society where their faces are buried in their phones. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the kids who were texting while riding their bikes down the street yesterday. When I did some research I was happy to find that although many young kids are distracted by technologies and all that it offers, millennials – although they get a bad rap for being lazy, unmotivated digital natives – were still very much infatuated with print.

Millennials and Generation Z have been dubbed the generations of digital. They are constantly “Snapping” their friends, taking pictures for Instagram, Tweeting about anything and everything, but they do have strong admiration for print.

Research shows that the average 18 to 31-year-old checks their phone 150 times a day (no, that’s not a typo, A DAY!) while 67 percent of millennials say they would rather read a magazine or book in print form rather than on an iPad. I was shocked when I read these conflicting statistics, but after a little bit of thought it made sense. Millennials today are attached to their mobile devices 24/7. They are checking Facebook, answering emails, texting, talking on the phone, etc. When it comes time to unwinding and relaxing, though, they want to do it screen-free. These generations love the tangible element of print. I think many marketers assume that because millennials and Generation Zs are so well connected on social media and other digital platforms that they automatically want their news, magazines, books, etc. digitally. Not true. These misunderstood digital natives go out of their way to choose print for certain areas of their life that they could easily use a mobile device for. So if the generations that we think only love digital media ARE choosing print, maybe some of the marketers that jumped on the bandwagon heralding “print is dead” might want to jump off.

Print will ALWAYS have a part in the marketing mix – even to the most digital-loving generation of them all. Now, if we could just work on those two-year-olds who know how to operate phones to choose print more often…

Megan Kucala

Business Development

Building Your Strategy For Effective Sales

No matter how detailed a sales plan may be, results are what matter. This is why Matt Sharrer wants his clients to do a little soul searching. He asks tough questions about executing the right strategies and the corresponding internal conversations that take place.

Sharers is a partner at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) which is comprised of former sales and marketing leaders that help companies make the number.

For the last 15-plus years, Sharrers has worked with companies such as Ryder, Integrated Device Technology, Informatica, Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman to help fine-tune their sales strategies. We asked Sharrers to break down the five steps he believes help define a successful sales plan.

What are the most fundamental pillars of any sales strategy?

First, it should build on the insights from your market research. Second, it should align with your corporate strategy. And third, it should address exactly how your sales team will achieve its objectives with strategic support from your company’s other departments. For example, the product and marketing teams. With these three pillars in place, you can begin to craft a strategy that enables sales to stay focused on the right investments and grow sales revenue organically.

Walk us through the steps. Define the importance of planning.

You have to develop sales and data plans that allow your team to hit their goals. The whole process starts by creating a clear plan. Define KPIs and determine what data you need to help you make decisions. Determine what talent resources you need. Having a solid sales revenue plan enables your sales team to work in concert. It gives them a clear path to their goal.

How important is the engagement step?

Even supported by a winning marketing team, sales still must generate leads. The engagement step involves prospecting and defining a sales process. Here, you will determine how your sales team interacts with prospects and customers. Begin with prospecting to generate early-stage buyer interest. Next, deploy a sales process tailored to how buyers actually want to buy. This will improve win rates and deal sizes while shortening the sales cycle length.

How does the organizational part of the process work?

You have to figure out how to deploy the resources you secured in the planning phase. Set up the organizational structure so that the right people are in the right roles. They should be able to execute the processes defined in the engagement phase.

You set them up for success by placing them in well-defined territories. Create balanced territories by placing the right reps in the right places. Assign them the right quota and make sure the quota reflects each territory’s potential. Offer a compensation package that drives desired behaviors, but make sure it stays within the corporate budget. And always attract, retain and motivate top talent. To execute your strategy, you must source, hire, coach, train and develop talent.

Doesn’t it all come down to execution?

Yes. This phase is where the real work is done. It’s where you focus on sales enablement and pipeline/forecast management. Start by determining how you will drive adoption of new sales initiatives:

• What content does the sales team need?

• How do you communicate new sales enablement initiatives?

• How do you package the material into a playbook, and how do you make it available when it’s needed?

• What should your training program include to build the necessary sales skills? How do you reinforce that through coaching?

• How do you measure the effectiveness of your enablement investments?

Focus on getting the right content to the right people at the right time. But stay agile and incorporate lessons from successes and failures along the way.

Define the importance of analyzing the data.

The data requirements you determined in the planning phase should come alive through reporting. Forecasting issues can result in a loss of credibility. So think through your pipeline carefully:

• What pipeline/forecast management process do you need to drive accuracy?

• How should you train your team on this process?

• How should you account for big deals in your forecast?

Conduct quarterly business reviews that help the sales team make the number.

What’s the best way to support your team’s initiative?

Giving support is essential because it enables your sales team to be effective in perpetuity. It will also make the internal organization easier to do business with. Remove non-selling responsibilities and streamline responsibilities that can’t be delegated. Do that by:

1. Establishing defined sales operations roles to increase sales efficiency. This includes process, technology, metrics and best practices.

2. Finding a sales support team to make the organization easy to interact with. They will represent sales within the other corporate functional groups.

3. Constructing systems that automate the core business processes. This will remove the administrative burden and increase the productivity of the sales organization

 

Change Is In The Air

The “Future of Jobs Report,” which was created in 2015 in collaboration with the Global Agenda Council, states that, “Disruptive changes to business models will have a profound impact on the employment landscape over the coming years.” And while many of us didn’t need a fancy report to uncover this nugget, it is simultaneously comforting and discomforting to know that empirical evidence backs up the hypothesis that new types of jobs and corresponding skills will be needed over the next five years.

 

The drivers of change are many, and somewhat obvious. Few would dispute the facts that technological change, socio-economic variables and geopolitical events will continue to have a significant impact on our world. However, the immediacy of these changes is what seems to fall on deaf ears.

 

The effect of all these changes is shortening the “shelf-life of employees’ skill sets.” The functions in virtually all industries have yet to be defined, so the skills needed for future employment and overall organizational success have yet to be cultivated. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the leaders within the business community to retrain and hire a workforce with skills that may be appropriate in five years. This demands a remarkably progressive mindset, but one that will sustain the business for years to come.

 

As you can imagine, there are countless categories of job functions that will see massive decline. But there are a few that are identified as critically important across several industries. In particular, the idea around specialized sales representatives highlights that all of our businesses must become even more skilled in “commercializing and explaining their offerings to business or government clients or consumers, either due to the innovative technical nature of the products themselves or due to new client targets with which the company is not yet familiar, or both.”

 

One of the key takeaways from this important study is that marketing will never go out of style. The demand for people to persuade, build followings and communicate remains high. The way we do these things may change, but the concept that marketing is the cornerstone to good business will remain.

 

Consider the excerpt from the report that states, “Overall, social skills – such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others – will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment  operation, and control. In essence, technical skills will need to be supplemented with strong social and collaboration skills.”

 

Challenges persist in the coming years. The future work environment may seem daunting, so it is critical that business leaders become aware of the pending changes, act decisively and equip people with the necessary skills to serve.

 

Change is in the air, and we need to be ready.

10 Killer Reasons You Should Be Using Print

This blog is brought to you byour friends at Midland Paper.

Contrary to the heralded demise of print, it’s alive and kicking. And, according to these media experts, it’s here to stay. Many of the brands that abandoned their print products during the recession have been clambering back into the world of ink on paper. Why? Because it works. Print increases engagement, drives sales and cements relationships.

Don’t just take our word for it, in the first of a four-part series looking into the value of print, Content Magazine has spoken to these five content experts, from both the US and the UK, to find out why print is still relevant in a digital world.

Samir Husni aka Mr Magazine™
1. It opens your customer’s mind
“The most important factor, besides the feel and touch [of print], is the element of surprise. We’re trained how to find information in the digital age, but with print there’s always an element of surprise. You can be browsing through pages and encounter a great story unexpectedly. In digital we are always looking for something specific, limiting our imagination. Print opens our mind to things we never knew we were interested in, or even existed.”

2. It saves your customers time
“I had a conversation with the CEO of Imagination, one of the content marketing businesses in Chicago, who said five years ago their revenue was 55% digital, 45% print. Today it’s 55% print and 45% digital, because even their clients have recognised the importance of having something delivered through the mail box, on your table or on your desk. Consider for a moment that we live entirely in a digital world – print does not exist. Everything is on our screens, and someone comes to you and says: ‘I’ve invented this new device. I know you are interested in media, journalism and design. So I’ve searched all that we have, and put it together for you in a 68-page device that needs no computers, no charging. It’s fully loaded, you don’t need to download anything. It’s called a magazine!’ You’d look at it and say: ‘Wow! You’re saving me money, time and searching, plus you’ve done all the curation and homework for me’!”

Andrew Hirsch CEO John Brown Media
3. It increases product awareness
“We are quite old fashioned; we like our content to sell something on behalf of its client. For the ROI of print, we look at sales. Take for example the John Lewis magazine – we track the sales [of products featured in the magazine] and we can prove – using data – that the content we’ve created is driving sales – either in store or online. We sell millions of pounds’ worth of advertising in our magazines – but this just off-sets the cost of production. The real prize, for the retailers we work with, is making consumers aware of products. For example, in the Waitrose magazine, the main idea is to get the customer to put two or three new items in their shopping basket that they wouldn’t normally buy. The magazines are really about encouraging you to buy products you wouldn’t actually buy.”

4. It re-engages lapsed customers
“There is one very good use for print, better than other content delivery systems and not enough brands are using it for this purpose, that is, re-engaging lapsed customers. If you’ve ever bought from an online brand, but for whatever reason, whether it was price or quality, you’ve not bought anything from them since, you will have been sent endless digital communications from that company. What this is actually doing is pushing you further and further away from a decision to buy. Their communication has become an irritation. What brands should do, instead of bombarding customers with more and more digital communication, is send them a print product, because more often than not this re-engages the customer. Online footwear retailer, Zappos (which is not one of our clients), was experiencing a problem with re-engaging with lapsed customers. About two Christmases ago it sent their lapsed customers a print catalogue, and overnight some went on to become their best customers.”

Tony Silber Vice President, Folio
5. It gives your customers an identity
“Print does a few things really well that digital has not proven to be the equal. One of them is to develop a measure of ‘wantedness’ – where people actually want to spend money to subscribe to the magazine. It does a much better job than any digital media possibly could of reflecting an individual’s values and priorities – whether it’s professional on the B2B side or vocational on the consumer side. You might read Cosmo, The Atlantic or Hamptons Magazine and put them on your coffee table – because it says something about you in a way that digital can never replicate on your phone or on your computer.”

6. It acts as a springboard to other media
“Magazines have done this way better than newspapers. It’s tragic because newspapers have played such an important role in our society for hundreds of years. Magazines lend themselves to that 360- degree product orientation. You have a print magazine, then do a TV show, events, or any number of digital products. There are many revenue streams that you can create from a magazine brand, that have proven to be very successful. For example, Folio has a pretty robust awards business. It has a strong conference. It has a vibrant, robust website and newsletters and custom content webinars, whereas 25 years ago it was only print.”

Sean King CEO Seven
7. It offers your customers an immersive experience
“Coming from a publishing background, the team at Seven understands the power of print, of actually spending time with a high quality magazine as opposed to just spending time online, which is a much different experience. Print is a much more immersive experience than a website. When you’re on a website you’re more than likely searching for a specific thing – but in a magazine you’re exposed to a content experience that you’re not necessarily looking for, opening up an entirely new set of opportunities and discovery for the reader.”

8. It drives sales
“We did all the publishing for ASOS when we launched its magazine. We were able to prove what impact the magazine had on basket size and frequency. You can measure this stuff when people receive print magazines especially if you’re an online retailer – there’s a feedback loop when they make a sale. We publish a lot of magazines for clients, so we completely get the value of print for a brand. Traditional media is finding it harder to make money; to make the economics work. But brands can afford to do it. They can have a different view as to the value of the customer. If that customer is going to spend, say £250 a year (on the back of reading a magazine), it’s worth providing them with a magazine.”

Keith Sedlak Executive Vice President & General Manager, Manifest
9. It engages millennials, not just the older demographic, too
“Recent research has found that the younger millennials are starting to appreciate and turn to magazines in the last 18 months. I think a lot of magazines are being read by the older demographic, and they still lead the majority in terms of the readers, but I do believe that millennials are engaging with print too. Obviously they are consuming content on a mobile device, as they’ve grown up in a digital age, but they’re starting to appreciate the difference that a magazine offers. There is a shift happening – a younger generation is appreciating print more than they did three, four or five years ago.”

10. It’s a more relevant read
“I think that we’ve all become schizophrenic online readers – in that you can be reading an article that’s informative for the business that you’re in, then click on a suggested article link which takes your from Inc.com to Business Week or to BuzzFeed. There’s no method to the madness. I think that’s the opportunity for print; if you know your audience, your database of customers, your content becomes more relevant, personable and customized. Those publications stand the test of time.”