When it comes to selling tags and labels, there are several strategies to keep in mind. By identifying the latest technological trends and staying educated, distributors can answer questions a client may have about materials and the end-use of a product. To ensure all parties get exactly what they want, Print+Promo turned to the experts. Read on as they provide useful tips for selling tags and labels.
Staying on top of what is new and exciting in the market makes a big difference in maximizing business opportunities. Pat Larson, marketing manager at Repacorp Inc., Tipp City, Ohio, cited RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology as a noteworthy trend in the tag and label game. "The hot trends in labels and tags are RFID and digital," she said. "There is a lot of growth in retail item-level tagging and in closed-loop applications."
Larson also observed an increase in digital runs. "Digital runs are hot, especially when printing multiple SKUs or versions of a label," she remarked. "Laser cutting and digital printing eliminate the need for costly plates and tooling, making short runs very affordable for small businesses, private labeling, seasonal labeling, regional labeling and market research."
Digital print, along with variable imaging, has proven to be a hit at Toledo, Ohio-based Kay Toledo Tag Inc., a Div. of Ennis. "Our digital printing and our variable printing are at an all-time high demand right now, especially with the synthetic materials like lockout tags for a lot of the medical industry for protecting human life," said Danielle J. Kay, CSM, sales and marketing. "We keep up with these trends by making the right purchasing decisions for our presses and software."
New Technology, New Abilities
Following the latest developments in technology can also help distributors make the most of selling tags and labels. Larson mentioned that although RFID is nothing new, it's something that many distributors might not be using to its full potential.
"RFID isn't a new technology, but it is new to many distributors," she said. "Those who educate themselves in RFID are finding it very profitable, especially since many retailers such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Macy's, JCPenney, Kohl's, Dillard's, GAP and Sak's Fifth Avenue are going to item-level tagging." To accommodate the growing demand for RFID, Repacorp recently installed a third RFID press-a Mark Andy P7.
Bill Reid, vice president of sales and marketing at New Dimension Labels in Austell, Ga., noted that digital technology is gaining popularity over older methods. "Digital (e.g., HP Indigo, toner-based (Xeikon), ink jet) continues to displace traditional print technologies," he said. "As the technology develops further, the cost point of owning such equipment should come down."
Researching potential customers and asking the right questions to make sure their needs are met is something distributors often overlook, according to Kay. "I find that in our industry people don't do enough research about their customers," she observed.
Kay recalled a situation where a client wanted 1,000 small "No. 1" tie-back tags. This particular job, she explained to the customer, was better-suited for a digital press, eliminating the extra time and fees associated with setting up a tag press.
She cautioned that some customers prefer the more traditional way with ink, and that they may need an outdoor tag that would last a few years, so it comes down to once again being mindful of how exactly the customer will be using the product.
"We find that a lot. [Distributors] just don't ask the right questions," Kay continued. "It comes down to us talking to our customers to understand what exactly their customers want, where in the long run we're actually helping our customers and their customers, too."
Reid agreed that distributors don't always ask enough questions, and shared his definition of a good distributor.
"[Smart distributors] survey all areas within the client (marketing, manufacturing, compliance, etc.) to understand what they value from their supplier," he said. "They identify their pain points when it comes to labeling and packaging needs and then present a complete solution. This tends to lead to a longer sales cycle, but the distributor is rewarded with a satisfied and loyal client. The value-add pays off in the long-term."
Sometimes, unexpected obstacles arise. Reid pointed to label failure as one of the biggest problems distributors face.
"Determining how the label or tag is used and what the product encounters in packaging application, distribution, and use in the market place is critical to avoiding label and tag failure," Reid said. "Using a standardized questionnaire to make sure all possible issues are discovered in advance before providing a solution is essential. The answers to these questions provide necessary details that tag and label vendors need to know in order to provide the best product and pricing."
Larson agreed that many problems can be avoided by thorough research and technical knowledge of the products. "Labels and tags seem like simple products, but they can get complicated," she said. "Educate yourself by touring your label manufacturer's facility and asking questions. Contact material manufacturers and work to understand the different face stocks and adhesives.
"Understand how artwork needs to be prepared for print, such as outlining text and the differences between four-color process and PMS colors," she added.
In doing so, you just might get a sale that sticks.