A Recipe for Success
Every New Year's Eve, people scramble to think of their last-minute resolutions. As January kicks into high gear, unoccupied treadmills become scarce, cigarettes are flushed down the toilet and junk food remains on the supermarket shelves. Unfortunately, bad habits die hard.
Business is another area that cannot thrive, or even survive, on good intentions alone. While the economic forecast remains the same, times are changing and trends are ever-changing. According to a November report released by the National Association for Business Economics, the U.S. economy is likely to remain weak in 2011, with only moderate growth expected.
Now is the time to find a balance between practicality and creativity, and incorporate it into your product line. For several suppliers the answer is integrated products.
For approximately 15 years, integrated products have comprised a significant—and still growing—percentage of business for Harvard, Illinois-based AmeriPrint Corporation. Gary St. Onge, CFC, vice president, sales and marketing, said the ability to produce integrated products both off-line and in-line, and in very large quantities gives the company a competitive edge.
"In addition to cards and labels, we have successfully integrated decals, sticky notes, stencils, key tags and magnets into various types of documents," he mentioned. AmeriPrint plans to expand its product line in 2011 with the introduction of a line of blank integrated card and label stock.
USA/Docufinish, located in Plainfield, Ill., also is banking on integrated products. Having manufactured integrated card and label products since the early '90s, the company has developed a high level of expertise in this niche. Many of USA/Docufinish's proprietary films have been developed to perform at the ultimate level while maintaining a cost-effective price, noted Jason Lambert, vice president, sales and marketing.
All integrated jobs tend to stand out to the USA/Docufinish staff due to their uniqueness.
Some of the most common markets ordering these products include those in hospitality, insurance, zoos, museums, hospitals, fraternal organizations, non-profits, special interest groups and alumni organizations, Lambert said.
"One of the numerous advantages associated with integrated labels and cards is there are millions of ways to utilize the product in a document," Lambert observed.
Gordon Klepec, vice president of sales and marketing for Portland, Oregon-based Wright Business Graphics, agreed. Some of the applications he has seen include temporary loyalty cards, membership cards, children's menus, shipping labels, coupons, calendar reminders and appointment reminder cards.
"The great thing about integrated products is they can be used for everything from a packing list to a four-color process membership card to a high-end organization. Almost every company has a use for an integrated product and, in most cases, a well-designed integrated product can eliminate another piece of printed material or streamline a step in a current process," he said. "I know our goal is to not eliminate print. However, in the process of incorporating a well-designed integrated product, you are creating value to the customer and can charge more based on that value you are creating."
Despite their versatility, integrated products require the backing of a creative team to be effective. Marketers, in particular, can fare rather well with these products. Some even are using the crippled economy to their advantage.
"The economy is creating a huge amount of opportunity for business. Targeted marketing has become even more important than ever, replacing a lot of blast-based marketing. Adding value to direct mail campaigns, such as an integrated card or label, helps to increase the response rates for those target marketing efforts," Lambert commented. "Co-mingling technology such as 2D QR codes in combination with an integrated card or label is one of many hot new ways to take integrated products to the next level."
Klepec recalled a specific creative solution that his team worked on for shoe giant Nike when the company was promoting its Nike Town stores in conjunction with the New York City Marathon. Nike executives wanted a piece that had space allotted for individual runners to write a person's name (i.e., the person honored by the race). Runners could then remove the top sheet, which was made into a label, and place it on the "dedication wall." Verbiage for the racer was printed under the liner of the integrated label. Most received the message: "Go to the third floor to redeem your prize," and a few contained the message: "You have won ... ."
"Nike's challenge was to find someone that could print the label, so when removed you could read what was under it as well as creating variable messages. We produced these on our rotary presses," Klepec explained. "The neat thing about this project—other than solving the problem for the client—was they came back to us a couple of days later and needed 500 more, which we produced digitally. Our unique lineup of machines and personnel allowed us to meet the customer's needs for a single product utilizing multiple pieces of equipment all under one roof. The customer was extremely happy with the results."
AmeriPrint also has been successful with promotional applications, and St. Onge continues to see an increase in demand. One AmeriPrint-produced product that stood out was a four-color promotional flier incorporating both a loyalty member card and two key ring tags. "This piece is imaged on high-speed laser printers and processed through automated mailing equipment. This document also produced higher than expected results for the end-user," he said.
With any product, there is always room for improvement and integrated solutions are no exception. Several issues can hamper the production processes of integrated items. Klepec cited liner availability, turn times on the delivery of the liner and cut-off capability on company machines as some examples. To help lower production costs, Wright Business Graphics is putting its software offerings to use.
"We have begun producing more and more personalized integrated products with our numerous software offerings that allow us to electronically create unique variable documents and then print them on our state-of-the-art digital equipment," Klepec said. "We have made further progress in our manufacturing processes by installing a fantastic web-to-print portal that streamlines our order entry process to reduce time in production and create efficiencies throughout the manufacturing process."
St. Onge mentioned new laminates and adhesives that offer lower cost and improved performance are continually being introduced to the market.
Lambert concurred. "There are always improvements being made in the production of integrated products. USA/Docufinish is continuously seeking out better solutions for adhesives and films. Digital printing technology often drives these improvements, so we work hard to ensure that we have the ability to produce a product for the latest equipment in the industry," he stated.
So, forget those pesky resolutions and start your business year with something that actually stands a chance to be successful. It's the perfect way to eliminate the guilt associated with good, but failed, intentions.