Social media 101: A cheat sheet for printers

Social media is officially mainstream and, while it’s a bit of a brave new world, it provides new opportunities for printing industry companies that build the right marketing strategies. Our day-to-day lives are increasingly being lived online, both personally and professionally. We go to Google and not the phone book to find phone numbers; we look up the weekend forecast with a phone app; we get the latest breaking news from Twitter; and we catch up with business colleagues via LinkedIn. As a result, customers are having conversations – online – about your company and your brand. It’s crucial to know what they’re saying – and to be a part of that conversation.

As a critical component of the marketing mix, print service providers must learn how to listen to, engage in, and participate in those online conversations. While we all naturally want social media to build buzz and engagement with customers, those customers are seeking a return. A December 2009 MarketingSherpa survey indicated that learning about specials and sales was the top motivation of those who “liked” or followed a brand or company online. Learning about new products, features, or services was a close second. Third on the list? Entertainment.

Social marketing is an increasingly important of your customers’ everyday lives , and you need to build a social marketing game plan for your business. The statistics are compelling:

• Research conducted by security company Palo Alto Networks found that Twitter usage in 2011 was up 700% from the previous year. (Yes, 700%.) However, Facebook remained the top social application at the office, accounting for 39 percent of employees’ usage of social media.

• According to The Nielsen Company, Americans spend 23% of their online time on social media sites.

• A survey done by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and published in February 2012 found that a full 90% of marketing executives surveyed use social media, and three quarters believe it has a positive impact on their business; yet, more than half (54.5%) of the respondents said their company’s marketing team spends less than 10 hours per week investing in social media.

• 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations; only 14% trust advertising.

• 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and services…what are they saying about yours?

A number of savvy print buyers and marketers are getting in the game and effectively leveraging social media in campaigns and to keep the “conversation” going with their customers. As a result, printers need to build strategies that deliver against the expectations of those print buyers and marketers, while also driving business results. But, wading into the swift waters of social media can be intimidating and difficult for printers, especially for small- and medium-sized operations that don’t have a formal marketing staff. In an effort to help, we’ve put together a cheat sheet for using social media for business – no matter the size. Come on in. The water’s fine.

1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch.

 2. Put your website’s content to work. Want to draw more traffic to your website? Help spread the word by encouraging visitors to share content they enjoy. One way to promote the sharing of your site’s content is to install a widget, such as AddThis, that automates linking to popular sites.

 3.     Be candid. In unsure economic times, transparency goes a long way toward retaining and attracting customers. Giving readers the scoop on your company blog is an easy way to keep the lines of communication open.

4. But be careful what you say about others. While recounting negative experiences with others won’t necessarily lead to a court battle (although it could), it’s best to steer clear of name-calling.

5. See what people are saying about you. A quick search for mentions of your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp can yield a goldmine of information concerning your reputation. Applications such as monitter and Trackur can help you keep track of the conversation across the Web.

6. Don’t go on the defensive. A harsh rebuke of your business on sites like Yelp can not only bruise your ego, but also hurt your livelihood. But resist the temptation to lash out in public. Instead, respond privately and respectfully to less-than-flattering comments. And keep in mind that you can’t please everyone.

7. Don’t promote too aggressively. While social network users have proven to be open to marketing—especially if it involves a discount—they’re not flocking to Facebook or MySpace to hear sales pitches. If your profile or blog reads like an ad, it’ll turn visitors away.

8. Find influential people in your industry. In addition to maintaining your blog, make sure to keep your eyes open to what others in the industry are buzzing about online. Reading independent blogs and joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn are good opportunities to join the larger conversation.

9. Boost your credibility by helping others. For printers, establishing yourself as an expert in the field can bring in a steady stream of business. Demonstrate your ability to help print buyers and creatives in coming up with ideas and solutions. That will build credibility and, ultimately, leads.

 10. Measure ROI. Measure, measure, measure. Services like, Digsby, and Google Analytics can measure traffic, and serve as tools to tell you how well you’re doing. And don’t forget to measure.


Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing

Guts, gumption & grit: You have what it takes?

Today, business owners are faced with a number of challenges and recent economic conditions have compounded some of those. In many cases, they’ve had to make hard decisions, change the way they think and change the way they do business. And that’s not necessarily easy to do and, oftentimes, it comes down to guts. Call it whatever you like…you have it?

In the popular western story, “True Grit,” 14-year-old Mattie Ross sets out on a quest to avenge her father’s death. Her arduous endeavor doesn’t appeal much to the most professional gunslingers. With unrelenting determination and doggedness (grit), she enlists the help of an aging, half-blind, half-drunk U.S. marshal. She believes he’s the man with true grit – a trait this intuitive (and gritty) girl believes is needed to navigate the perils of the untamed territory.

Whether facing the perils posed by rough terrain, hungry rattlesnakes, and desperate outlaws, or facing the challenges created by disappearing profits, global instability, and increasing competition, grit is the factor that embodies the indomitable character of the U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn and his unlikely sidekick. Grit, it turns out, is the key to success – the defining characteristic that overrides fear, doubt, and roadblocks.

So, if you are a leader trying to navigate this perilous, never-ending economic landscape to venture into the unknown – grit is what you need.

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me…. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney

The Grit Factor

A leading research psychologist, Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., contends that people who accomplish great things often combine a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take. That appears to be the case with businesses today.

Over the past three decades, Dome Printing has become one of the largest privately held commercial printing companies in northern California. Tim Poole, who runs the century-old company along with his brothers, Andy and Bob, says that guts, gumption, and grit define his leadership style. This is evidenced by the company’s steadfast devotion to its mission to be a world-class print solutions provider, supplying the best customer experience, and using its competitive advantage.

“My leadership style has a call for all of these attributes timed, delivered, and executed in the right doses to insure balance in our organization,” Poole says. “Steadiness of character is measured by a leader’s commitment to applying values consistently. Trust is achieved by building respect, and respect is acquired by people knowing what you stand for. Without displaying grit, guts, and gumption, I guess that the opposite would apply – a spineless, selfish individual with a lack of the resourcefulness needed to make good decisions.”

David Bailey, Jr., president of Lithographics, a 36-year-old Nashville printing company says that having guts and grit is a major reason why the company still is in business today. “Considering the way things have been for the last several years, if you are the leader of a business and don’t have a whole lot of guts and grit, you are probably not going to be in business much longer,” he says.

Poole says there definitely is a lack of the “grit factor” in today’s world. “We love the Reagan years. He was one of the first presidents in years that had the guts, gumption, and grit to make changes in the White House. I have admiration when I meet great leaders. They are easy to recognize. On the flip side, there seems to be more companies being led by people who lack strong character – guts, gumption, and grit. I have had the opportunity to visit failed companies, and it is usually obvious that the root cause of failure is lack of vision and not enough guts. It takes guts to do the right things.”

Bailey says that, unfortunately, it seems that some business leaders want to take the easy way out. “Sadly, the majority of businesses that I interact with are continuing to work on or manage how they are going to ‘look’ in order to survive and prosper in this new economy.”

Jill Wangler, marketing director at Fineline Printing Group, says some people like to take the path of least resistance. “A lot of people inherently don’t like confrontation – don’t like to be challenged. For certain roles in a business, there’s a fit for these folks. But for a manager or leader, I think a lack of these traits – guts, gumption, and grit – are detrimental to the organization as a whole for a lot of reasons.”

So, Do You Have Grit?

Not only is grit important, but Duckworth also contends that having grit – that perseverance and passion for long-term goals – can better predict success than traits such as IQ or conscientiousness. A few years ago, she set out to determine what qualities most accurately would predict outstanding achievement. She developed a test to measure grit, which she called the Grit Scale. This simple test requires you to rate yourself on 12 questions (it relies entirely on self-report). The test takes about three minutes to complete. Here are some sample questions from the Grit Scale:

1. I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge.

Very much like me

Mostly like me

Somewhat like me

Not much like me

Not like me at all

2. New ideas and projects sometimes distract me from previous ones.

Very much like me

Mostly like me

Somewhat like me

Not much like me

Not like me at all

3. My interests change from year to year.

Very much like me

Mostly like me

Somewhat like me

Not much like me

Not like me at all

When Duckworth took the Grit Scale into the field, she found it to be remarkably predictive. At the University of Pennsylvania, research indicated that high grit ratings enabled students with relatively low college-board scores to nonetheless achieve high GPAs. Next, Duckworth administered the grit test to more than 1,200 freshman cadets as they entered West Point, embarking on a grueling summer training course known as Beast Barracks.

The military also has developed its own complex evaluation to judge incoming cadets and predict which ones would survive the demands of West Point. The test includes grades, a physical fitness evaluation, and a leadership test. But at the end of Beast Barracks, the more accurate analysis of which cadets persisted and which dropped out turned out to be Duckworth’s 12-item grit questionnaire.

Duckworth carried out a similar “success study” with kids who competed in spelling bees. Again, it turned out that grit – in this case, the ability to persist and passionately pursue your goal of winning the spelling bee by doing whatever it takes – was the best judge of success.

Nature or Nurture

Is grit an inborn ability, just like intelligence, or a talent? Or, can grit be cultivated? Many psychologists and philosophers contend that adversity is essential for character development.  Was young Mattie Ross, the heroine of “True Grit,” born with grit, or did she grow gritty due to adversity (the loss of her father)? Would Rooster Cogburn have had less grit if he still had both of his eyes?

Lithographic’s Bailey argues that qualities such as grit come from your core being. “I agree with the saying that, ‘adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals whether someone has it or not.’ I’m sure that everyone possesses some of these, but at different levels. If you don’t have much of it, it is very difficult for it to be nurtured or grown or developed.”

Fineline Printing Group’s Wangler believes in the power of both forces – nature and nurture. “I’m not saying they’re equal, but the ‘nurture’ influence can vary based on one’s upbringing and relationships. For employees, I think it’s important to challenge them appropriately and provide opportunities to build on their passion wherever I can. What’s especially important for young professionals is for them to know that making mistakes is okay.”

Perhaps the adverse economic climate has fueled the growth of grit in some individuals, and the challenges we face should be hailed as opportunities for evolution. Dome Printing’s Poole says his character strength is deeply rooted in his DNA, but that experiences also have shaped who he is. “The fear of failure causes me to constantly examine what is working and what changes need to occur to drive innovation and ward off complacency,” he says. “I have had and still do experience influences that help shape my character. The older I get, it seems that the rate of influence is accelerated, or the economy has forced me to examine everything much closer. I challenge my weaknesses and never give up.”

“If a company desires to have a business culture of grit, gumption, and guts, the rewards should be felt throughout the organization,” Poole says. “In leadership training, we teach individuals how to make decisions. I think we will add a segment on the value of understanding these defined characteristics as we build leaders in our organization.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Business development, Fujifilm, Inkjet, Uncategorized

Swimming in a bigger pond

It’s no secret that our industry is undergoing significant change. Electronic gadgets and applications are becoming a larger part of people’s daily lives, print run lengths continue to decline, and the competition for marketing dollars is stiffer than ever. As a result, printers are under increasing pressure to react, to adapt, and to change. But, change how?

There has been a tremendous amount of talk lately about printers moving from Print Service Providers (PSP) to Marketing Service Providers (MSP). The reason for this, of course, is the continued decline of traditional print work. The message to the printer is, “evolve and expand your offerings if you want to stay relevant. Do more things for your customers. Become more of a ‘one-stop-shop’ for your clients.” Admittedly, this is a necessary evolution, but I’m not so sure the term MSP is a good description of what printers will – or should – evolve into.

A wise and progressive customer of ours suggested a more accurate description of the modern day printer would be a Visual Communication Provider (VCP). By controlling the visual content for their customers, this printer acts as a “content consultant,” not simply another print purveyor. Print is certainly a key component of most campaigns, but more often than not it is supported by alternative mediums. For example, a direct mail piece may be coupled with a follow-up email campaign. Or a brochure may include a QR code that pushes a customer to a PURL. Cross-media marketing is not a threat to our printers, but rather an opportunity for growth and expansion into new areas of production and profitability.

When visiting a Smash Burger restaurant for the first time recently, I was greeted by a digital menu board. It was large, bright, easy to read and even incorporated short videos of a few of their most popular (and likely most profitable) menu items. I was impressed by the menu board…and the burger. But, it made me wonder – where does this evolution leave the printer? At first glance, it would appear the printer of the static menu board would lose a customer, but then I remembered the phrase “content consultant.” With a willingness to change and evolve his business, this printer could control and stream the content to these boards, he could create additional short videos highlighting seasonal menu items, and he could produce table tents to further promote those key items, maybe even include a QR code that would provide the scanner of the code with a coupon.

As I looked around the restaurant more closely, I also began to see very familiar items: tray liners, printed menus, P.O.P. displays, and calorie content brochures. So while my attention was first grabbed by the pretty, shiny new menu board, there were still many, many familiar items printers produce every single day. Digital displays, tablet computers, and smart phones have certainly modified the way we send and receive information, but that does not mean they will totally displace print. A tangible printed piece is still very attractive to many consumers. I see the creative use of coatings more and more in printed pieces these days and I assume this is to encourage the consumer to pick up the piece, touch it, and feel it. That is a sensory experience a digital menu board, a blog post, or a QR code simply cannot replace. As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest or most intelligent of the species that survive, but those that are most responsive to change.” Seems like a great mantra for the print community, doesn’t it?

Leave me a note…let me know what you think.

– Matt

Leave a comment

Filed under Business development, Marketing

Didn’t make it to Dusseldorf? See (some of) what you missed.

drupa 2012 officially wraps up today and was, by early accounts,  a successful show. According to show organizers, nearly 315,000 attendees (representing more than 130 countries) visited the show’s 19 exhibit halls.

As you know, Fujifilm had the largest booth in the company’s history and was certainly a sight to be seen. For those of you who weren’t able to make your way to Germany, here’s a brief look at the Fujifilm stand.

Leave a comment

Filed under Flexo, Fujifilm, Inkjet, J Press 720, Uncategorized

drupa sure does look different

This is my fourth drupa and, reflecting back to my first show in 2000, I’m impressed at how much things have changed with Fujifilm. In 2000, the Luxel Saber P-9600 green (YAG) platesetter was one of the booth highlights. Compare that to today, when one of the most impressive aspects of the booth is the amount of packaging-related products and solutions.

When you take into consideration the various products and samples on display, approximately 30% of the booth falls into the packaging category. It’s significant to note, especially when you consider that at drupa 2008, when Fujifilm featured the J Press 720, packaging wasn’t even in our product line-up.

The J Press F (provisional name with “F” standing for Folding Carton) is the first product attendees see when walking into Hall 8b, and it’s the entry into the Package Print Zone. Based on the J Press 720, the J Press F features FUJIFILM Dimatix SAMBA™ 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, single-pass inkjet print heads and also prints at a speed of 2,700 sheets per hour. The device utilizes newly developed water-based Fujifilm UV ink, has a maximum sheet size of 750 x 530mm (29.5” x 20.8”), and can accommodate stock up to 24 pt. board. The J Press F will be released in FY’13.

The FLENEX DLE system and Acuity LED 1600 are also in the Package Print Zone. The DLE (direct laser Imageengraving) system includes FUJIFILM Workflow XMF (that will connect to any workflow), the platesetter and rinse unit, which are displayed on the main aisle and attracting a lot of attention. DLE is a simple two-step process system: laser imaging and rinsing, especially compared to the conventional seven-step LAM (laser ablation mask) process. As a result, DLE reduces hours of platemaking labor as well as equipment (UV exposure frame, processor and dryer) and the end results are substantial cost savings and superior print quality. The FLENEX DLE was launched at drupa, and will be featured at Label Expo in Chicago this September.

There are two Acuity LED 1600 devices running live in the booth, with one in the Package Print Zone. ImageFeaturing print samples for packaging applications, the LED 1600 is a Fujifilm-driven technology. The key components of the device are the Fujifilm ink, the print heads and the LED curing system. Customers visiting the Acuity LED 1600, section of the Package Print Zone are impressed with the packaging application and it’s creating a lot of interest.

– Peter Vanderlaan

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital printing, Flexo, Fujifilm, J Press 720

The show’s open….

The show is open! drupa 2012 kicked off yesterday and will run until May 16th. With 19 halls of exhibit space, drupa is the largest print industry trade show in the world.

Fujifilm is exhibiting in the largest booth in the company’s history, with approximately 22,000 sq. ft. of booth space, requiring approximately 700 Fujifilm staff members from around the world will support the booth over the next 14 days.

The Fujifilm booth is impressive. With a delicate balance of equipment and space, we are showing a full line-up of new and current products, showcasing our print capabilities and are offering live demonstrations on the following products in both English and German:

  1. J Press F (Folding Carton) inkjet press
  2. Onset S40i (new zoned vacuum bed)
  3. J Press W ( web) inkjet press
  4. Workflow (full XMF product line-up, including ColorPath)
  5. J Press 720 inkjet press

There are manyother exciting products on display, with one-on-one demonstrations available, including:

  1. FLENEX and the DLE (digital laser engraving) flexo platesetter
  2. Acuity series, featuring the LED 1600 and Advance HS X2                                                                                products running live and outputting wide format and packaging applications
  3. Javelin 8900Z CTP with ZAC processing
  4. Uvistar Pro8 (8-color)
  5. Xerox ColorPress 1000
  6. Display wall featuring the full line-up of Fujifilm plates and pressroom solutions
  7. FUJIFILM Dimatix Technology Zone, featuring current and new inkjet print head technologies
  8. Exhibit zones with a café,  health store, and art gallery featuring Fujifilm products and print capabilities
  9. FUJIFILM Workflow XMF throughout the booth

With the exhibit that’s been assembled, Fujifilm is demonstrating our position as a global leader in digital printing technologies during drupa 2012. Inkjet is a major theme throughout the booth and we’ve introduced many new products into the growing packaging segment (labels, folding cartons, corrugated, and packaging). Additionally, Fujifilm remains true to its commitment to the environment and is showcasing a variety of environmentally sustainable products and solutions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Wanna go out sometime?

We recently launched Energy magazine (a quarterly publication for business owners and executives in the printing industry), for which I serve as Editor and Publisher. I’m proud of our latest issue and am enjoying the new role, as it allows me to venture back into my days as a journalist (I worked as a newspaper reporter and copy editor). It’s also giving me the opportunity to learn some things, both about the magazine publishing business and, more importantly, about reaching readers with information they need, want, and enjoy.

I had a recent conversation about the magazine with a fellow publisher and he shared an important lesson. Framed in such a simplistic way, it made tremendous sense and I’m sure is something that will continue to serve me.

Magazine publishing, it turns out, is a lot like dating.

To be “successful,” you’ve got to start with the basics. You’ve got to be where they are (in this scenario, readers and/or men). Okay…maybe that’s a bit too basic, but bear with me.

There also has to be attraction. I think you get what that means in the dating world, but in the magazine publishing world, we’re referring to design. The overall look and feel of the magazine is something readers should want to touch and open and peruse.

Next, there must be substance. A connection between the two and, ultimately, something that makes you want to know and learn more. Do we know the same people or run in the same circles? Does we have any hobbies in common? Do we like the same movies or music? For Energy, this means we need to include articles on topics readers are familiar with or enjoy or that contain information they need. Beyond commonalities, is there some element of fun? Does the article entertain me? Can he make me laugh?

It’s important to note that in both magazine publishing and in dating, a true connection generally isn’t established in an instant. It’s going to take awhile to fall in love. So, please have a look at our latest issue. I’d love to hear your feedback (email me at on the articles and, of course, to go out again sometime soon.

Thanks for reading,

~ Kristi

Leave a comment

Filed under Energy, Fujifilm, Marketing