Friday, June 28, 2013

How Premiums Work Better Than Coupons and Discounts

What is a Premium?

A premium is anything of value that you offer a prospect or client in exchange for taking an action that you direct them to. This could include an incentive or a gift.

The right premium could encourage someone who might otherwise set aside the mail to act now instead of later (or not at all). This works especially well when there is a limited quantity available or you state a deadline for responding. An example of this would be offering a Starbucks coffee gift card in exchange for filling out a survey or submitting an honest testimonial.

Premiums can also be used to generate demand for your products and services, to reward fast response, or to boost the size of an order.

Why Does a Premium Work?

Everyone wants something for free, but they also want to reward those who rewarded them.

Premiums work because of the "rule of reciprocation" made famous by Robert Cialdini, a psychologist and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.  According to Cialdini, "We are obligated to give back to others the forms of behavior that they have given to us. Essentially, thou shalt not take without giving in return."

How Premiums Improve Direct Mail Response?

Any direct mail campaign includes the following components:
  1. The Mailing List
  2. The Design
  3. The Copy
  4. The Offer
  5. The Print & Packaging
  6. Timing & Delivery
How do premiums fit into this? They are part of the offer.

Most premiums have low costs but a high perceived value. Although premiums add to the cost of a mailing, the gain in response and the attention they provide outweigh the additional expenses.

Premiums can be delivered in several ways, depending on the goals of the campaign. The premium can be delivered as a front-end offer, when you want your mailing to stand out. It can also be delivered as a bonus or incentive, if the recipient responds to your call to action. In this case, a photo or graphic image of the premium would work well.

Examples of premiums can be found in daily life outside of direct mailers. The McDonald's Happy Meal is often purchased because of the toy premium inside rather than the food. Many cereal boxes are sold because of the trinkets inside as well. Premiums are often used at sporting events when the ticket attendant hands out a calendar or a bobble head to the first 1,000 attendees. Premiums are also found in many non-profit mailers, where a free set of mailing labels with your return address printed on them are included, along with the request for a donation. Our society at large is conditioned to appreciate premiums.

Premiums can also be used to encourage your existing clients to give you referrals and testimonials. They can be used as great reminders to motivate your best clients to help you get more customers.

But will premiums work for you?

Remember that your premium is only one part of the direct mail package. You must still follow best practices and essential principles of direct mail. Although a premium can improve results, premiums alone do not guarantee success.

Just because premiums work for many companies does not guarantee that they will work for you. Test different premium offers, and keep careful records of your costs and sales (or leads) generated.

Although the recipients are not obligated to respond, history, case studies, and human psychology indicate that offering premiums can significantly boost your response rates. Direct mail + a premium can be a winning combination to boost business for your company.

Posted by Chuck Gherman

For more information about Printing Arts Press please visit

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Your Next Sales Super Achiever

We all want to increase sales and grow our businesses. We also know that hiring and grooming a sales superstar is one surefire way of achieving those goals. Unfortunately, finding and retaining a sales superstar is a difficult task. Until you find the secret to make that a reality, here's an alternate path to consider for reaching your sales goals.

Self-publish a book!

You read that correctly. One of the best ways to increase your sales and grow your business is to author and publish your own book. Self-publishing your book allows you to present your points to your target audience in an authoritative way - just like a sales superstar would.

Now, to be clear, we aren't talking about writing a novel the size of War and Peace. Nor are we talking about writing a prize winning book. This type of book is written specifically to bring you leads and the types of customers who are looking to buy what you sell.

They say everyone has at least one book in them, but no one tells you how to go about writing it. Being an author is on many people's dream lists, but few go about actually accomplishing the tasks needed to bring a book to life. Perhaps that's because writing a book seems so overwhelming. "It will take many years." "I don't know how to write a book." "I don't know what to write about." These are some of the many excuses that stand in the way of making authorship a reality.

It doesn't have to be that way. Here are five simple steps to get you going:
  1. Pick your topic title.
  2. Make an outline of your main topic and sub-topics.
  3. Choose three main subjects to write about.
  4. Think about ways you or your products/services go about solving your customers' problems. Come up with 10-20 solutions.
  5. Write about and expand on one of those points one hour every day.

It really can be as simple as that. Within a few weeks, you'll have the main part of the book finished and ready for editing. Finding nice cover graphics and having it printed is not difficult.

Imagine being able to hand a prospect your own beautifully printed book. Do you think that would establish credibility and open some doors?

Your own self-published book is the ultimate business card - and the sales superstar you can use to grow your business in ways not otherwise possible. What's more, this kind of sales superstar has no ego and doesn't call in sick either. There's at least one book in you. Start writing it today.

Posted by Chuck Gherman

For more information about Printing Arts Press please visit

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Secret to $aving Money on Printing

Printing = manufacturing

Printing is a custom manufacturing process. When we fill your order, we aren’t taking something off the shelf and shipping it to you. We start from scratch each time, with paper, ink or toner, and a digital file containing the images to be printed (either provided by you or retrieved from our secure file storage). 

All printing jobs have at least two manufacturing steps: prepress and printing. The prepress step uses a digital file (usually a PDF) to create a raster image. Printing is the output and reproduction process, which may be done on an offset press or a digital printer.

Depending on the requirements of the job, it may also require finishing steps such as trimming, folding, stitching, drilling, binding and assembly. Jobs being printed for the first time may need design and preflight. Like all custom manufacturing jobs, printing requires clear, unambiguous specifications to guide the manufacturing process. These include the type of paper, the ink color(s), the finished size of the printed piece, and whether finishing work is required. For each new printing project, we write the initial specifications based on the choices you make. To eliminate errors that might be caused by rewriting specifications each time the job reprints, we use a computerized print production management system to store the specifications.

Custom manufacturing takes time, and haste makes waste. Recognizing this, we have developed production standards that tell us how much time to allow for each step in the manufacturing process. Our production standards aren’t arbitrary; rather, they were developed to allow our production team enough time to read and understand the job specifications, decide the best equipment to use for the job, and operate the equipment in a manner that produces quality results while ensuring operator safety.

Can we speed things up when necessary? Can we pull rabbits out of hats and perform minor miracles? Of course. But that’s exceptional work, not our production standard.

Printing = partnership

We learned long ago that being dependable is the most valuable thing we can offer you. Our goal is to deliver your printing on time, as ordered, and at the agreed upon price. But we need your help to do this.

Tell us the real due date. 

We will have your job done at the agreed upon time – period. That means you don’t have to pad the due date because we might be late. If you prefer to have all printed materials in hand a week before the meeting at which they will be used, we understand and will have the job ready. If you intend to pick up the job on your way to the meeting, we also understand. Either way, we won’t let you down.

Provide your inputs on time. 

Remember our production standards? They are the basis for developing the production timeline. When you are providing inputs – a PDF file, text, photographs, illustrations, mailing list, postage deposit – we will give you an interim due date for each input. The interim due date is when we must receive the input for the job to stay on schedule and be ready on time. If others in your company are responsible for some of the inputs, we suggest you share the interim due date so you won’t be late. You’ll be on time and we’ll be on time.

Provide inputs in industry standard format. 

Microsoft Word is an industry standard for a report, but not for a brochure or a mailing list. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are industry standards for drawings and illustration or color correction and photograph manipulation but not for page layout. Some programs can make print ready PDFs; others cannot.

A special word about design, file repair and desktop printing: our job is to make you look good in print, and we take this seriously. We want all your printed materials to represent you well and for your branding to be consistent. That is why we may suggest that you let us design your new printed piece, or redesign an older one that needs refreshing. We may suggest redrawing a pixelated logo or creating a digital file of a document that currently exists only as printed copy. 

We make these suggestions as part of our job as print professionals. Most of the time our suggestions are based on a short term or one time expense that we can demonstrate will save money in the long run.

Reprinted from Printing Arts Press The Word on the Street newsletter.

Posted by Chuck Gherman

For more information about Printing Arts Press please visit

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Your Unique Selling Proposition

What's a unique selling proposition (USP)? First the Wikipedia explanation:

"The unique selling proposition (a.k.a. unique selling point, or USP) is a marketing concept that was first proposed as a theory to understand a pattern among successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940s. It states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and that this convinced those buyers to switch brands. The term was invented by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company. Today the term is used in other fields or just casually to refer to any aspect of an object that differentiates it from similar objects."

A strong USP can mean the difference between being "just another company" and one that's unique and memorable in the minds of customers and prospects. To do this, a USP must accomplish three things.

  1. Each USP must make a strong appeal to the target audience. Not just words, not just product puffery, and not just window advertising. It must say to each reader: "Buy this product, try this service, and you will get this specific benefit."
  2. The benefit must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. In other words, it must be unique.
  3. The proposition must be strong enough that it can attract new customers to your product or service on its own.

Here are some USPs you might recognize:

  • Nike: "Just Do It!"
  • Apple: "Think Different."
  • Miller Brewing: "Tastes Great, Less Filling"
  • KFC: "Finger Lickin' Good"
  • Subway: "Eat Fresh."
  • Energizer: "It Keeps Going, and Going and Going..."
  • Head & Shoulders: "You get rid of dandruff."
  • Domino's Pizza: "You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less -- or it's free."
  • FedEx: "When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight"
  • M&M's: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand"
  • Metropolitan Life: "Get Met. It Pays."
  • Southwest Airlines: "We are the low-fare airline."
  • Walmart: "Always Low Prices. Always."

Your USP is your unique answer to these questions:

  • Why should I listen to you?
  • Why should I do business with you instead of anybody and everybody else?
  • Why should I do something instead of nothing?
  • What can your product do for me that no other product can do?
  • What will you guarantee me that nobody else will?

There are two types of USPs: explicit and implicit.

Explicit USP

  • The message you lead with
  • Clearly stated in your marketing materials
  • Involves promises & guarantees
  • Aimed at new customers or first-time buyers of a particular product or service

Implicit USP

  • What customers love most about you
  • Things that keep existing customers coming back to you
  • May get mentioned by customers in testimonials & word-of-mouth referrals
  • You may go for years and never state it publicly: "We operate with absolute integrity."

Whether you have a new business or an existing one that needs a stronger USP, here are some ideas to help you come up with a USP that translates to a benefit the customer wants. A strong USP can have some or many of these characteristics.

  • Faster service
  • More personal service
  • Services above and beyond the basics
  • Guaranteed on-time completion
  • Guaranteed delivery
  • Guaranteed friendliness
  • Guaranteed live phone support
  • Better prices
  • Exclusivity (Ours is the only package that includes x.)
  • Superior quality
  • Convenience
  • A better promise or guarantee of results

Your USP should be unique, useful, simple, and memorable. A well thought out USP can help you position your company in a powerful and strategic way. It's never too late to strengthen your USP. Start today.

Posted by Chuck Gherman

For more information about Printing Arts Press please visit

Monday, June 10, 2013

How to Beat a Low Price Competitor

Every industry and every business tends to have at least a few competitors who know only one way to compete: unreasonably low pricing. These businesses undercut pricing so much that few make any profits. Unfortunately, as they go down the tubes toward oblivion, they often drag a few good companies with them.

Everyone knows that competing is part of being in business. Problems occur when some companies don't want to play by the rules.

One man who ran into just this sort of problem was Herbert Dow.

Herbert Dow founded Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan, after inventing a way to produce bromine inexpensively. He sold the chemical for industrial purposes all over the US for 36 cents per pound at the turn of the 20th century. He couldn't go overseas, however, because the international market was controlled by a giant German chemical cartel that sold it at a fixed price of 49 cents per pound. It was understood that the Germans would stay out of the US market so long as Dow and the other American suppliers stayed within their borders.

Eventually, Dow's business was in trouble, and he had to expand. He took his bromine to England and easily beat the cartel's fixed price of 49 cents per pound. Things were okay for a while, until a German visitor came to Michigan and threatened Dow that he had to cease and desist. Dow didn't like being told what to do, so he told the cartel to get lost.

Shortly thereafter, German bromine started appearing for sale in the US for 15 cents per pound, well below Dow's price. The cartel flooded the US market, offering the chemical far below their own costs, intending to drive Dow out of business. But Dow outsmarted them. He stopped selling in the US entirely and instead arranged for someone to secretly start buying up all the German bromine he could get his hands on. Dow repackaged it as his own product, shipped it to Europe, and made it widely available (even in Germany) at 27 cents per pound. The Germans were left wondering why Dow hadn't gone out of business and why there suddenly seemed to be such a high demand for bromine in the US.

The cartel lowered its price to 12 cents and then 10 cents. Dow just kept buying more and more, gaining huge market share in Europe. Finally, the Germans caught on and had to lower their prices at home. Dow had broken the German chemical monopoly and expanded his business greatly. And customers got a wider range of options for buying bromine at lower prices.

Dow went on to use the same trick against the German dye and magnesium monopolies. This is now the textbook way to deal with predatory price cutting.

The way Dow went about dealing with a low-ball competitor may not be the solution for you in dealing with your own competition. But his method does show that you can win by thinking creatively and putting some thought into outfoxing an opponent in other ways than just matching their low prices.

Posted by Chuck Gherman

For more information about Printing Arts Press please visit

Friday, June 7, 2013

8 Skills Successful Entrepreneurs Have That Others Don't

There are skills you can learn from textbooks, skills you can learn in business school, and skills and lessons passed down from mentors and peers. Then there are the skills that can only be learned in the school of hard knocks and the real world. An entrepreneur who wants to be a true leader must understand which skills are the most important in order to lead a healthy and growing business. Here are eight of the most critical skills which differentiate successful entrepreneurs from others.

1: Patience and Persistence

The life of an entrepreneur includes facing many closed doors. Successful entrepreneurs have grit. They focus on the end goal and have the patience to see it through to completion despite the roadblocks.

2: Planning Skills & Time Management 

Entrepreneurs must wear many hats and are often pulled in many different directions throughout the day. It's critical, therefore, that plans and goals are flexible enough to handle unexpected surprises when they occur. Successful entrepreneurs set the GPS for their lives and businesses so they know where they are going every hour of every day.

3: Communication & Persuasion

Whether speaking with a prospect, a customer, an employee, or a stakeholder, it's critical that the message and key concepts are presented clearly. When the point is made with focus and clarity, the chance for ambiguity falls by the wayside. Leaders know how to communicate and how to persuade.

4: Confidence & Sales Skills

Successful entrepreneurs are able to sell their products, services, ideas, and passion not only to the outside world of customers but also to their internal team of employees. That requires confidence and sharp sales skills. Successful entrepreneurs can sell anything.

5: Knowledge and Learning Skills

Successful entrepreneurs are passionate about continuous growth and improvement. When others think they know all there is to know, these leaders will push themselves to expand their horizon. They set aside an hour or more each day to read and learn about new, noteworthy industry advances they can apply to their business.

6: Realistic Optimists

No one can avoid bad news. Losing customers and having employees quit is part of life for any entrepreneur. The difference comes in how people view these challenges. The successful entrepreneur doesn't hide bad news under the rug, but has learned instead to deal with it quickly and move on to the task at hand without being dragged down.

7: Resourcefulness and Managing Cash Flow

Resourcefulness is a great trait for any entrepreneur. The ability to think creatively and come up with out-of-the-box solutions is a must-have skill. This goes hand in hand with being able to manage the cash flow of the business. It's a skill that shouldn't be outsourced and one that the most successful entrepreneurs have learned very well.

8: Intense Focus

What separates the most successful entrepreneurs from others is their ability to focus intently on the goals and tasks at hand. In a world of short attention spans and constant noise, these leaders are able to put blinders on when needed, unplug from all the unnecessary distractions, and see the task all the way through. That is perhaps the biggest difference between successful and ultra-successful entrepreneurs.

Becoming a successful entrepreneur is not about what you are now, but what you do today and tomorrow. You now know eight critical skills to work on to be what you are meant to become. Start working on them today.

Posted by Chuck Gherman

For more information about Printing Arts Press please visit