Avoid Delays and Additional Costs – What to Look For in Your Proof

There’s nothing more disappointing than seeing errors in material you just had printed, especially if it has already been distributed. The key to avoiding spelling errors and other problems with printed material is to very carefully review the proof that the printer supplies. The proof is supplied so the customer can be sure that everything is correct and as they expect. Use these tips and tricks for reviewing a proof so you don’t miss anything, and are completely satisfied with the outcome.

Print it out. Your proof is supplied digitally but don’t just glance at the screen and sign-off on it. Neither the proof on screen nor a printed proof will show the final colors. However, a printed copy will give you a clear sense of the size, and let you see all the elements of the design. Printing it also allows a close and deliberate scrutiny of the content.

Check the design elements. Check that the finished size is correct, and the typefaces and font sizes are what you intended them to be. Confirm that all content and images appear as you envisioned.

Check for glitches. Review the general appearance of the piece to be sure there are no scratches, spots, specks, holes or noticeable patterns in solid areas.

Bleed or no bleed. Make sure that elements that are supposed to run off the page (bleed) do and those elements that float in the piece (no bleed) are positioned as they should be.

Assess Registration. Letters, lines and edges should all appear crisp and clear. If text looks a little fuzzy, or if a color is protruding from the sides of another, then there may be a problem with registration.

Take a closer look at the copy. When we know what something is supposed to say, we often read a phrase, sentence or paragraph as correct, and totally overlook misspellings or wrong use of words. Read each word individually, even read the words backwards to insure spelling accuracy. Have another person review it as well. For large text filled documents, consider hiring a proofreader. Double check that nothing was omitted from your original content.

Don’t miss these. Carefully review your contact information for 100% accuracy. Also check page numbers, if your piece has them. If content moved around during the development of the material, page numbers can get out of place.

Don’t make the mistake of giving your printer’s proof a quick glance. When you sign-off on a proof it means that you are responsible for the outcome. A quick glance can lead to an oversight or error, reprinting and additional cost.

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Before You Press the Print Button, Read This!

Many businesses are often unsure whether to outsource their printing needs or try to take care of them in-house. Often the only aspect considered is cost but there are several factors to consider.

Professionalism – Whether it’s your storefront, your website or the printed material about your company, image matters. Your reputation is on the line so you want to insure that the outcome is the best quality possible.

Time Management – Although in-house printing gives you a certain amount of control of a project, any quality print job will take you away from other areas of your business. Can you afford to spend hours on design, late changes and monitoring the quality of the job? A good printer will take care of the entire job for you and be an excellent time and resource saver.

Cost – As the print quantity rises into the hundreds, the cost advantage for outsourcing becomes clear. Not only is the cost per copy less, but you won’t incur the management overhead associated with in-house printing.

Expertise – Regardless of the size of the job, professional printers have the resources to ensure that the potential of your marketing material is maximized. They can recommend design and printing options that are best suited to fulfill your goals and that will produce the best outcomes. The help and guidance that comes with working with a professional printer is invaluable.

Flexibility – With outsourced printing you can easily ramp-up or scale down printing due to business conditions. There’s no need to stock paper or ink. You always have the technology required for any type of printing you need done.

Innovation – Professional printers have the latest print technology available, providing the best possible commercial printing solutions. Plus, they have the capability to produce a variety of formats and to provide a wide breadth of services that you couldn’t duplicate in-house.

When you look at all the areas that are involved in the execution of a professional, quality print job, it is easy to see how outsourcing is the best way to go.

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How to Make Direct Mail an Effective Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Since the rise of email, direct mail is often overlooked as a marketing strategy. But what you may not realize is that direct mail, if done correctly, is a very effective, measurable and targeted means of promotion. As we are all bombarded by so many emails daily, direct mail can really stand out if the following steps are taken.

  • Pick a format best suited for your audience and your message. Postcards are an effective medium for most products because they eliminate the barrier of the envelope between the recipient and the message. However, some direct mail is more appropriate when crafted as a letter, for example when a more personal approach is needed.
  • Be creative. Make it possible for your audience to complete a story in their minds of how your product or service solves a problem that they have. Use graphics and messaging to engage your audience, thereby lengthening the time that the piece is looked at, and improving the odds they’ll take in the information from the piece to heart.
  • Use the right list. It is impossible to understate the importance of using the right list. If you have the best format and offer, but send it to the wrong list you will have nothing. Even if you are sure you have sent it to the right list, if that list has not been qualified, your campaign will flop.
  • Include an offer. The offer is a critical element to a successful direct mail effort. An effective direct mail offer drives traffic to your website or physical location for further qualification and/or selling. Including time bound, bonus, money saving or problem-solving aspects in your offer will instill a sense of urgency.
  • Personalize the campaign. Defining narrow segments and personalizing offers for each one will yield the best results. You don’t need to rewrite your mailer for every campaign – small tweaks will help you stick out.
  • Track the response. Coding mailers can make it easy to track response rates. You can do this by adding exclusive codes to your mailers such as a unique campaign URL, email address, or phone number, and invite respondents to use their unique code.
  • Test. Like other marketing efforts, don’t forget to test the performance of your direct mail offerings. Use the data to refine the campaign. Don’t worry about sending multiple flights to the same prospect. Continue until you convert the prospect to a customer.

Direct mail is an extremely effective channel that when used properly can yield excellent results and provide a high return on investment. Your local printer is ready to help you set up an effective and affordable direct mail campaign.

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Let Me Introduce You To Our “Big Boy”

An important aspect of a successful printing business is the equipment. At Minuteman Press of Newark we pride ourselves on having the most up-to-date equipment possible.

C1060-70We recently installed a new, state-of-the-art Konica Minolta C1060 with lots of bells and whistles that will print beautiful, amazing quality documents, performing multiple operations in one pass. With older equipment you would print booklets, for example, on flat sheets, then fold them, then saddle stitch them, then trim them …. very time consuming.   This new machine allows us to do multiple functions together on one machine.

Purchasing this “Big Boy” wasn’t a decision that I took lightly. It took careful assessment of my business to be sure that we had the volume of work to support it and the financial means to acquire it. I set out specific goals that the new equipment needed to fulfill and evaluated my choices based on those goals. Among those goals was to find a machine that would deliver the quality that my customers expect as efficiently as possible.

So when my customers send in jobs at the last minute, I know we can deliver. The “Big Boy” allows us to handle more at higher standards. We can meet large orders with ease. Because of improved efficiencies we continue to deliver exceptional quality with quicker turnaround. You can probably tell that I’m super excited about our newest addition. Watch this video and you’ll see why.

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Challenges All Small Businesses Face and How To Overcome Them

I went into business for myself over 10 years ago. At some time or other I’ve taken on the role of bookkeeper, salesperson, marketer, production manager, HR manager and many others. Necessity and experience have improved my skills in many areas. Some challenges have never gone away, but there are ways to address them.

Financial Management

This is at the top of many people’s list. Staying on top of money coming in and money going out ensures that there is always enough cash to go around. If you don’t understand cash flow, seek a professional that can work to set up forecasted expenses and revenues for you. Also, getting a line of credit from your local bank is very helpful; it’s gotten me out of several cash flow jams quickly and easily.

Hiring

You can’t do everything yourself and you certainly can’t grow without adding staff. Finding and retaining the right team members takes time. Do thorough background checks and understand local labor laws. It’s worth the work up front to find the person that will be an asset to your company.

Client Growth

Everybody needs a constant flow of new customers to sustain revenue flow. If you own your own business, your job is sales and marketing whether you know it or not. Try different ways to bring in new business, such as networking, forging relationships with referral sources, and direct sales, and see what works best. Devote a certain amount of time every week to keep your pipeline full. Be sure not to rely on 1 or 2 clients that make up more than 50% of your business. This work could dry up at any time. You want a diversified client base to pick up the slack when you lose any single client.

Marketing

Getting the word out about your business is crucial to its success. While you are the expert on what you do and its value to your customers, you may not have the time or ability to know the best way to communicate your story. Set out a plan that identifies who you are going to promote your business to, what the message will be, and how it will be communicated. Use tools that help automate the process.

Time

There are only so many hours in the day and days in the week. Working long hours for years will make you feel like you are a slave to your business. You want to get to a place where you are not working 7 days a week and you can take vacations. Do the things that only you can do and delegate the rest to internal staff or to an outside entity. Stay focused on working on your business and not in your business.

 

When you own your own business, there’s no avoiding challenges. The important thing is to recognize them and address them.

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Leverage Technology To Grow Your Business

As 2017 begins, it’s a good time to re-evaluate technology practices to ensure a more productive and successful year.

Have a great online presence. Start with logical navigation and compelling content on your website. Include a blog to engage with visitors. Fresh blog content will boost your website rankings in search engines. Compliment your website presence with an email newsletter that lands you in your customers’ inbox on a regular basis. Engage with customers through social media and stay top of mind.

Invest in a CRM. Many people use Microsoft Outlook or other email programs to manage contacts as well as manage emails, tasks, calendar, etc. But to properly manage your relationship with customers, you need more than the notes section of your email program. Use a true CRM product or service to really know everything you can about each customer and track every interaction with them.

Use technology to manage ongoing tasks. Bookkeeping is an example of something every business must do but can detract from running the business. Finance software allows you to easily keep finances up-to-date and reveal important information like how much you are spending on various business expenses, and profitability. Order processing and inventory management software are other examples.

Upgrade hardware and software. Using outdated technology can not only cost you in productivity, repeat customers and revenue, but it also can cause reputational damage. Upgrading to newer, more flexible technology such as tablets can will speed up processes, facilitate sales, and enhance customer perception and experience. When your technology slows you down instead of helping you work faster, it’s time to upgrade.

Outsource the tech part of technology. You should be an expert in what you sell but there is no need for you to understand servers, network security, data backup or cloud technology. Outsource IT support to the geeks and concentrate on managing and growing your company instead.

Think of technology as an investment. Technology will help you work more efficiently, understand your customers better, get in front of customers more easily, and increase sales. Don’t think of it as an expense, but as an investment in the future of the company.

Technology is a powerful tool that allows you to work more efficiently, improve customer relationships and increase sales. Leverage it so you can focus on growing your business.

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“I Realized I Had To Make A Change”

njbizby Brett Johnson
originally published October 10, 2016, NJ Biz
For Kaplansky, starting her own business was about changing her life.

It wasn’t a snap decision made after a spark of inspiration on a peculiar night.

It was a morning stark in its normalcy that stirred Holly Kaplansky to decide to launch her own small business, quitting her cozy yet dull corporate job.

“At one point, I really had what I call Velcro bed, and I just couldn’t get up in the morning and get going,” she said.

“That’s when I realized I had to make a change because I clearly wasn’t happy.”

“I had a comfortable job that had grown to be something I hated. And it very slowly went from being a hard decision to a very easy one.”

Kaplansky, owner of Newark’s Minuteman Press, launched her printing business in 2005 after a 30-year stay in corporate America, a career during which she held prominent positions such as brand manager for Kraft Foods and global marketing director for Ovid Technologies.

“But I left the corporate world as many people did – and people continue to leave all the time – because that world gets harder and harder to work in with downsizing, harder work, longer hours,” she said. “I thought, if I’m going to have to put everything into a business, I might as well do it myself.”

There was a small problem Kaplansky had – she didn’t even know what line of business she was going to enter.

After doing some research, she settled on the printing industry which would allow her to apply her marketing background. She worked with a larger franchiser to establish a location in Newark, but she’s quick to dispel the notion that this arrangement has made it any easier.

“You really have to run your own shop; they’re not doing it,” she said. “You’re doing the marketing and running all aspects of the business. They give you some of the basic tools and systems, but you have to run it yourself.”

The transition from the corporate world to running her own business has come with a learning curve; she noted profit and loss analysis and finding an appropriate market
segment as key challenges.

But she has also been able to bring some prior knowledge to her new enterprise.

“It’s helped that I’ve been on the other side of the desk, seeking services of printing companies, so I really understand not only what the customer wants but how they want
the product presented,” she said. “You can have the best product in the world, but if it’s not presented properly or in a way someone can hear it, it’s not going to really help you.”

“It has been a lot of fun to have these interactions on a one-on-one basis with customers instead of with thousands or even millions of clients as part of a large corporation.”

One thing she’s glad hasn’t been carried over to her growing printing business is the discontent that made even getting up in the morning difficult.

That doesn’t mean the work itself is less difficult.

“Small business is very hard,” she said. “There is no finance department, HR department, or facilities management, purchasing, PR – I’m all of those things. But the work is so
fulfilling. I leave work every day proud of what I do.”

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