Last week I listened to a webinar featuring Andy Paparozzi, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the National Association of Print Leaders (NAPL), presenting the State of the Industry report 2013. Industry, in this context, refers to the PRINT industry.
The report consisted of at least 45 minutes of wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth doom and gloom evangelism. “The print industry will never be the same again! We will never get back to pre- Great Recession numbers!” Mr Paparozzi, talking about the industry to which both he and his listeners belong, continued in this negative fashion. “Between 2010 and 2013 sales in the industry have pretty much remained the same but that is still more than 21% below pre-Great Recession levels. As an industry we are not getting worse but there has not been enough progress. Conditions are not better. Business is a slow tough grind, it is uncertain and a roller coaster ride. Many organizations are revising sales down for the year. “
Mr. Paparozzi’s message was not exactly motivating. Some of my key employees were also listening to the webinar; they said it made them feel deflated and anxious. But at the same time they were a little bewildered because we at Cats Media are busy! There are times when we can’t hire fast enough. Why were they hearing so much negativity?
Mr Paparozzi went on to tell us that there are dramatic variations of performance from company to company and that the industry leaders are doing well, some with increases of up to 54%. In order to compete we have to change our mindsets. He then provided a laundry list of things we could do, such as ‘think creatively, meet more clients, listen better, be flexible and critique self’. Sorry Mr. Paparozzi but you are wrong. Those suggestions are in no way creative and are not going to get anybody very far.
On one thing, however, he is right: we do need to change our mindset but not the way he suggested. In my opinion the print industry is a dinosaur. In fact I don’t even believe that there is a print industry left. It’s gone! Print is no longer an industry it is simply a service. It is one component of a total package. It is definitely profitable in the right context and still sought after by the right clients for all the right reasons. But it is just a small part of the big picture and the big picture is MARKETING. We have to be marketing service providers, not printers. That is how we must change our mindset.
If you have yet to change the culture in your organization then you should put a sign saying ‘We are not Printers!’ at the front of your building for every employee and client to see. Eventually the message will get through. And if you are worried that this sign may make you lose sales then your mindset definitely needs work!
Everyone wants to increase the number of hits on their websites. The easier it is for a visitor to find your website the better your chances for a sale or a connection. The result of a sale is obvious; a connection improves your chances for positive interaction. An accessible website is becoming the cornerstone of successful marketing strategies. In order to achieve that success it is critical to understand how search engines work so you can build your search engine results. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be hugely complex requiring the assistance of an expert, or it can be very simple; it all depends on the complexity of your organization and website. If you own a small business it’s a given that you must have a web presence; you owe it to yourself to make it effective.
Here are a few basic SEO rules for small business owners:
Monitor your results: check google analytics every month and know what your results are. Take a look at how you are doing from a hits perspective. Know what words are being used to find your site. Know what geographic area you are pulling hits from. If you don’t monitor the results every month you won’t be able to monitor the success of your strategy.
Place keywords in your site: use key words in title tags, page headers, in the actual content and as image names. If you aren’t sure what your key words should be, check out your competitors’ websites and see what they are saying. Refrain from using the same word over and over; use a synonym if you can’t think of something else. Overdoing the key words will backfire and you will get labelled as a spammer. Keep it simple.
Use text in your website: search engines can only search text, not photos or images – just text. Visitors like to look at pretty pictures so if you want to improve your SEO add captions to your gallery of products or photos; make sure you tag your images with key words. Also, a caution to franchise owners, or those of you who purchase industry specific web content: content duplication is not well received by search engines; search engines look for fresh content.
Avoid Flash: it may look pretty but it handles text poorly and does nothing to improve your SEO. Flash is not searchable if you only have a small website. Don’t waste your money on it.
Content needs to be fresh: blogging is a great way to keep the content fresh and updated regularly. It’s also a great way to keep your audience engaged, support your brand and make your company stand out from the competition. Make sure your titles are under 70 characters long and use words pertaining to the content. If the title is too ‘clever’ it won’t help build SEO.
Social Media: distribute links to your fresh content across social media platforms. Tweet and re tweet, create regular updates for Facebook and join LinkedIn groups. Send out your fresh content, when it makes sense, to attract new visitors from other platforms and link back to your site.
Link to others: reciprocal links are an easy way to direct traffic to your site. Ask if you can include a link on the websites of the organizations you belong to and other well-respected sites. Be reciprocal; link those sites back and everyone wins.
Market your website: building a website isn’t enough. You have to market it and direct people to it. Put your domain on your business card, email signature, newspaper ads, rack cards, brochures and all your marketing and advertising materials. If you send out eNewsletters include a link back to the pertinent section of your website. Use every opportunity to direct people to your website.
Keep SEO top of mind. Following these simple guidelines will help improve your results each month. It’s an opportunity to get the best bang for your website buck!
The Port Hope and District Chamber of Commerce Conference and Trade Show is the first annual showcase of businesses in our catchment area. The theme of our 2013 Conference and Trade Show is:
Small Community → Global Impact:
Economic Opportunities and the PHAI
The Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) represents the Government of Canada’s commitment to the cleanup and local, long-term, safe management of historic low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope. As part of the Port Hope Project implementation phase, the waste will be excavated and relocated to the new Port Hope long-term waste management facility.
Today’s society and economy is dependant on the sharing of information and the development of opportunities. At the Port Hope & District Chamber of Commerce we work closely with the Municipality, the PHAI and other groups, to create, and sustain, a positive business climate in our community. This year’s conference will showcase the work we are doing relating to the Port Hope Area Initiative.
The PHCC’s inaugural event will highlight how the Port Hope Project will generate opportunities to form new and creative partnerships. It will offer Chamber members and others the tools to grow through interaction with other businesses, and a chance to combine the strengths of local organizations to best serve our community.
The 2013 PHCC Conference has two goals: to explore questions that relate to the Port Hope Project and to educate. With the assistance of renowned speakers and presenters from inside and outside the community, this conference will clarify concerns and help residents and business owners access the information they need. It will introduce them to opportunities they didn’t know existed.
Who will attend?
The 2013 Port Hope Chamber of Commerce Conference and Trade Show participants and delegates will include:
• business professionals working in and with the nuclear and waste management industry
• business owners who would like to profile their products or services
• contractors who would like to work with the Port Hope Project
• residents who are interested in education and information about the PHAI
• young professionals interested in gaining exposure to the project and networking with industry experts
Take this opportunity to support Port Hope’s business community by becoming a sponsor or exhibitor at the 2013 Conference and Trade Show. Join us on October 24, 2013!
Call us at 905.885.5519 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , or visit us at www.porthopechamber.com.
Personal branding is a very effective form of marketing. Each one of us has our own brand; it’s the way we market ourselves to others, consciously or not. Understanding and developing one’s own personal brand can build the same equity as a good business brand. To do so we have to set goals, develop a mission statement and then define a personal vision and value statement. Personal branding allows us to share our passions and talk about our dreams.
Personal brands must not be allowed to stagnate. A strong brand must always be active in order to be relevant to today’s issues. As a business professional it’s important to always be aware of how your activities affect the health and growth of your brand. Are you active in your community? Do you adhere to the rules of the road? Are you shopping downtown and supporting local merchants? Do you greet your neighbours when you see them on the street? Do you nurture your staff? Are you supportive of clients by constantly seeking ways to make their lives easier?
The integrity of your brand must be consistent and solid but the message it sends out must stay fresh and vibrant, otherwise it will not stay top of mind. Your brand becomes meaningful when it is embraced by people who can relate to your values. So being relevant means understanding what is important to your clients or community. It also means always staying in touch so you are constantly aware of shifting priorities. This will allow you to offer messaging with a perspective that continues to reflect the values that initially drew people to your brand. Values should remain the same, consistent and solid. No brand should change with each passing trend if it means that the brand does not stay true to its owner.
Remember that it is people who will follow your brand. People are your clients. Corporations or associations may endorse you but those endorsements start with one interested person paying attention. It’s important not to be seduced by other audiences; personal brands need to stay relevant to people. Give your audience a fresh way of viewing the values that give meaning to your brand. Give them a new and creative angle that will grab their attention. At the same time, your voice must remain consistent.
One way to strengthen your brand is to get your clients or community involved with it. Give them opportunities to interact with you. Organize seminars or other learning experiences, or simply create an opportunity to connect online or meet for coffee. Ideally it has to be something your clients or community want to share with others. It is also imperative to reach your clients the way they want to be reached. Be present where they want to be, whether that’s on social media or traditional print. Create a personal marketing kit that tells the world who you are and what makes you unique. Your kit can include your business card, your blog or website, LinkedIn profile or Facebook page. For those of you searching for new employment it can also include your resume. Your personal brand describes what you do, how you look and what makes you smile.
In the July/August 2013 issue of Monocle magazine I read a superb piece titled ‘Urban Regeneration’. “Neighbourhoods Need Stewards.” The article begins, “The places that we love are curated, cared for and cultivated over many years, so when they suffer it takes thought to regenerate them.” The author then takes us on a journey through Covent Garden, London, but the key points are relevant to many communities around the globe, large or small. Port Hope, Ontario, like other small Ontario communities, needs regeneration and, as a result, is going through a Downtown Revitalization project.
Let’s use Monocle’s thought process as we walk through downtown Port Hope’s Heritage Business District. Port Hope has a stunning downtown, rich in heritage both natural and architectural. The Ganaraska River, which meanders its way through town, offers some of the best trout and salmon fishing in the province. Tree lined streets boast well-preserved 19th Century buildings adorned with flags. Trains, connecting Montreal and Toronto, roll over viaducts that span the river. Rattling as they go, the trains have a strangely comforting rhythm to them.
Port Hope has demonstrated a knack for giving relevance to its past by mixing historic character with fresh ideas. For example the Port Hope Public Library is a beautifully renovated and expanded modern facility that respects the architectural legacy of the original 1912 Carnegie Library. It offers services ranging from the traditional loan of books to high tech Internet workstations to lending out fishing equipment to kids. It is a pleasant mix of old and new.
The Heritage Business District is defined and confined. It is walkable and accessible; a short stroll will take you almost everywhere. The downtown is minutes away from Lake Ontario, connected by a series of streets, walkways and riverside trails. The outdoor experience is not only interesting and refreshing but also makes things human. Strolling slows things down and allows you to take in more of the beauty of the architecture and the businesses that make this community unique.
The retail mix on Walton, John and Ontario Streets is interesting and quite strong. It has always been somewhat of a destination but today it needs some national brands to make it more attractive to Port Hopers. If we do a better job of inviting our own community downtown, we will have the formula to attract visitors from just about anywhere. Downtown also needs more hustle and bustle in the summer time with relaxed bylaws to allow street side patios. We need the streets to come alive. We have a park and a band shell and a playground but no town square or piazza where seniors and young mothers alike can sit in the shade. The fountain hasn’t worked in living memory. Lents Lane could be lovely but falls flat. We are not sharing our little hidden courtyards and walkways between neighbourhoods, primarily because no one ever asked us to. We need to give ourselves more of an outside chance at being more liveable.
The second floors in our downtown buildings are undergoing a much needed renaissance, with building owners renovating to upgrade their properties and expand office and living space. Investment in our downtown is key; small details can lift a neighbourhood. Upgrading infrastructure is a good value decision but not an immediate money maker.
We need to come alive in the evenings and on Sundays. We are quick to roll up the street at 5pm; many merchants are not open more than a few hours on Sunday and some not at all. A downtown that thrives when people are off work adds enormously to its quality of life. An example of thriving would be the events on Saturday of this weekend, thanks to the efforts of local community groups; downtown Port Hope was an exciting place. Thanks to Herb Jung and his coordination of an art exhibit and a walking theatre, Critical Mass for Before I Die installation and the Farmers Market’s 10th Annual Arts Festival our streets really did come alive – it was fabulous.
While Downtown Revitalization will address physical improvements it is designed to go far beyond a simple facelift. ‘It embraces a plan for long-term sustainability that also includes leadership and management, economic development, and ongoing marketing/promotion of the downtown core’. We have a wonderful community; let’s make it a great one: exciting and dynamic, with the emphasis on people.
One of our largest clients recently asked us to take on the print work they had been outsourcing to another supplier. Very tempting. We already had a good relationship with the client and the opportunity to do more with them was very appealing. After due consideration we accepted the proposal. One of the conditions of the agreement was that we were to compensate the other supplier for inventory and intellectual property. We did so. The printer sold off his equipment, ended his lease and closed the doors. We took over his email address and his phone and fax numbers. We took it on because it sounded like a great opportunity and indeed we are confident that it will prove to be so. However the transition has been exceptionally difficult.
The supplier we replaced was a very traditional printer. He communicated primarily through phone calls and faxes. His print process was one or two colour on small presses; he had a cumbersome assortment of products based on his print process ability. Our challenge was to not only streamline the assortment but also to change the mindset of our client’s members. Instead of scrolling through reams and reams of products we reduced the assortment to a fraction of the ammount. We are building a web portal to enable each member to keep files and a history of purchases. We have introduced online ordering and instead of faxing we email digital proofs. Almost all our work is custom and print on demand.
We knew that the benefit to Cats Media would be the additional business and new relationships formed but we had to satisfy ourselves that the following questions would have positive answers: Does this opportunity align well with our strategic plan and mission statement? Is there real benefit from this opportunity? Will we learn or experience something awesome? And finally, will we make money or be in a better financial position because of this opportunity?
This experience is proving to be very exciting! We are helping our client take the leap that fundamentally changes their industry, their processes and the way they do business. Technology will take our services to the client, not the client to our services. It takes strong leadership to take those leaps and strong leaders who are committed to making a difference. Insisting that change happens is the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.
According to the *Institute of Global Futures the following are
the top ten trends of our ‘New Future’:
1. Business and technology have fused into one system, one conversation, and one strategy, for one world. This is central to understanding the New Future.
2. Innovations are about new business models, enterprise and marketplace collaboration, new leadership and knowledge engineering.
3. Knowledge engineering, the formation and networking of knowledge-that which creates results, is the true asset of the 21st century.”
4. The capture and analysis of customer information about product/service use, needs, wants, desires and behavior is critical to the enterprise.
5. The integration of customer touch points across all channels is essential to future success. Watch out for the breakdowns.
6. The capacity of an organization to understand the key trends that will shape the future of technology, customers, society and the marketplace will determine the survival of the enterprise.
7. More disruptions are coming in the form of emerging markets, electronic exchanges, security breaches, and changing customer demographics.
8. Human capital, the value of talent will be the most valuable resource in the 21st century.
9. Entirely new industries will be formed by innovations yet to be brought to market. Look for the health enhancement, interactive TV nanotech, and on-demand supply chains to emerge.
10. The New Future will need New Leaders that are aware of how to attract talent, manage innovation, set high visions and execute profitably.
There is a new paradigm about leadership that is emerging.
*Excerpt from http://globalfuturist.com/about-igf/top-ten-trends.html
Clients are more likely to respond favourably when they look for and find information using their own initiative. You can’t force a potential client to read your material, try your service or notice your product. Learning is not compulsory; you cannot force it. Therefore it makes sense to deliver information in ways that can be absorbed voluntarily in order for your target market to learn about your company
When marketing a service or a product it is important to consider the various ways in which people relate to information. We live in a busy culture and we are constantly bombarded with information. Messages are coming at us from everywhere. Obviously you want your clients to locate and absorb the messages you are sending them so the important question is how to deliver it effectively.
At Cats Media we concentrate on three distinct types of learning styles or abilities: Visual, Verbal and Physical.
Visual learners prefer to use images, pictures and colours to organize their thoughts. They never forget a face but aren’t necessarily good at remembering names. They visualize objects in their mind’s eye. They will draw graphs and flow charts to better communicate with others. They will use ‘visual’ phrases such as ‘let’s see’, ‘I can’t picture that’ and ‘we need a fresh perspective.’
Visual learners need visual representations of concepts and ideas. Pages and pages of text will not appeal to them. Lots of words with very little white space and no pictures will make their eyes cloud over and their brains shut down. Visual learners need graphic information. They need colour and pictures and flow charts and graphs. They respond well to visual stories in info graphics and enjoy ploughing through information that is presented to them that way.
The verbal style of learning involves both the written and spoken word. They love reading and writing. Verbal learners find it easy to express themselves in either medium. They understand words. They know the meanings of words, enjoy playing with them and love researching and using new ones. They tend to use phrases such as ‘let’s talk’, ‘spell it out for me’ and ‘in other words’.
Verbal learners, respond well to marketing that involves speaking and writing. Presentations to boards with supporting documentation work well. The documentation needs some lift to the text; repetition or the introduction of new terminology encourages better recall. The use of rhyme and rhythm also enhances the user experience. Verbal exchanges work well. If they read it then say it they will remember it.
Physical learners enjoy tactile experiences. It is important for them to walk through a project, ‘get their hands dirty’ and build or play with a model rather than read about it. They like touch, action and movement. They use phrases such as ‘get a grip’, ‘stay in touch’ and ‘this feels right’. They like to feel the vibrations of an engine or pressure on their hand. They notice texture and layers.
Physical learners respond well to constructing and deconstructing models. Build a kit that can be taken apart and put back together to show how your product works. Printed materials or documentation must be interesting, with different textures, tabs and formats. Most importantly, a physical learner will respond well to walking through a site tour, touching the product, switching a lever and shaking hands.
Visual, Verbal, Physical Marketing
Marketing materials must appeal to all three of these learning styles. Needless to say the materials for each style will differ. Strong branding with colour, info graphics which tell a story and brief bursts of messages through brightly branded rack cards appeal to the visual learner. The verbal learner needs detailed text supported by oral presentations. This learner requires an in depth analysis and needs to participate in a question and answer period. Physical learners need a tactile experience. They want to take a model apart, touch all the elements and feel the engine running. If you hand them written material make sure it is on textured stock and has tabs they can play with.
Marketing, just like learning, is a process. It does not happen all at once but builds upon what we have already experienced. Encourage your clients to participate in their own experiences. Having clients actively engaged in your marketing materials and allowing them to take control of the experience gives your company a huge advantage.
Sales and their resulting profit is the only place to start evaluating a company’s efforts. Are you achieving your financial goals? If you aren’t you may not have a company. If you are like me you probably developed aggressive sales and profit targets. At Cats Media we haven’t totally achieved our sales targets but we are substantially ahead of last year and substantially ahead of industry trends. We focused heavily on increasing our profit margins this year by encouraging growth in higher gross services such as fulfillment and mailing, and we continued to expand our service offerings away from traditional price sensitive commodities. We have also tightened our financial control of billing and receivables.
As a result we are reaping the benefits with a healthier profit for the year. I do believe, however, that we still have lots of opportunity to improve our results.
To achieve your sales and profit goals you have to have a great relationship with your clients. We make regular quarterly visits to our biggest clients and provide them with one page summaries of their projects and give them an opportunity to discuss upcoming plans, new projects or to deal with other opportunities. Niche and small business clients are offered in-house seminars and breakfast sessions. We are building sales teams who are developing business plans for our clients and partnering with them to help them become more successful. This is resulting in a deepening of relationships and increased customer loyalty. Our company is benefiting in many ways as a result of an effective sales approach.
Marketing and Branding
Our marketing is consistent, simple and effective. The plan is laid out a year in advance through our annual calendar; we are currently finalizing our 2013 plan. Each month’s message is reinforced with unaddressed ad mail in our local areas and eblasts to our existing data base of customers and prospects. Room is left for new items and new technology. We use a combination of push and pull marketing techniques. We have room for a more complex social media presence and will endeavour to work on that throughout the balance of this year and into next. Our brand image is constantly being reinforced by our associates who professionally represent our brand, at every level, through community involvement.
Cats Media has identified growth as a priority through our strategic plan. We are a small company and determined that we must grow in order to better serve our clients. We are at the point where we need to become specialists. We can’t just ‘wear lots of hats’ all the time. We also need to ensure that we have new business coming in to ensure double digit growth. Our strategic and marketing plans clearly determine that we spend 20% of our time, energy and resources on new business. Company growth, although planned, should be organic. In the past we have grown through a combination of adding new services, developing new business and making a few small acquisitions.
Having reviewed our strategic plans, I have been able to identify key areas where we are not performing well and the many key areas in which we are. We are not performing as well as I would like in the organizational part of our plan. Although we have improved we still struggle to formalize our internal communication and organization processes. We have implemented a Management Information System (MIS) with which we are trying to establish a comfort level, at the same time trying to understand the system and the reporting we can generate from it. We also continue to struggle with our own research and development. Cats Media’s creative innovations will set us apart from our competitors but in many respects we are still giving them lip service. Although well intentioned these programs get put on the back burner while we deal with client driven tasks. It is imperative that we make our ideas reality so that we will become a stronger company.
Port Hope is in the unique position of being host to Canada’s largest ever clean up of low level radioactive waste. The project is essentially a billion dollar construction project that will span approximately 10 years beginning in 2013.
That’s the simple explanation. The reality is that this is a vast and complex project. It involves government at all levels, combined with a myriad of intricate public and private partnerships, engineering expertise and technical innovation. It is of interest to the nuclear industry across the globe. Port Hope may soon become one of the most watched communities in North America.
I see this phenomenon as comparable to ‘getting the Olympics!’ Getting the Olympics requires a long and expensive commitment made by the host community. It is difficult and complex to manage. The positive and negative aspects of the Olympic Games on a host community need to be weighed. The public needs to be consulted. There is always opposition. The build time for the Olympics usually spans seven years and can produce tangible benefits for government and business. Often, a community can be unprepared for the inconvenience and disruption associated with the build. The goal is for sustainable permanent improvements to buildings and infrastructure that will make it all worthwhile.
Similarly Port Hope has been through a long and extensive period of preparation, including lengthy community consultation with stakeholder groups, indigenous communities, and watchdog and fringe groups. The build time will be closer to 10 years, bringing with it a swell in investment and business opportunities. It will create close to 2000 jobs over the 10 years. This will result in an economic spin off throughout the service industry to accommodate the additional workers: restaurants, accommodation and entertainment. The retail sector will also benefit from this increase in the Port Hope population.
Undoubtedly the political landscape of Port Hope will be transformed during this decade. The politics will be complex, involving local, national and international relationships with government, business, media and interest groups. Perhaps we will become better at public relations, learn how to listen more intently to our electorate and be more transparent in our processes.
Having endured the stigma and negative press of previous years, Port Hope deserves the positive economic benefit of this project. It is time for good news stories in the press, both local and national.
I look forward to seeing some of our heritage buildings being restored for accommodation or new office space, to a redevelopment of the waterfront and downtown, to new investors moving into our community and to the fresh ideas they will bring with them. Perhaps some of the many visitors and construction workers who come and go will decide they want to stay. And when we come out of it we will have improved infrastructure, restored buildings, some of them with new uses. We will have created a diverse population and achieved a strong image of a technologically innovative and forward thinking community.
It’s a win-win, and I personally am excited by the Port Hope version of Getting the Olympics!