Friday, March 26, 2010

Who is the Real AlphaGraphics Millennial Customer?

I found this video on YouTube a few days ago.  I think it precisely presents the gap between what a lot of businesses think about Gen Y/Millennials and how the Millennials think about themselves.  Honestly, I think the perception is somewhere in between, slanted toward the latter view.

The reality of the matter is that a lot of the Millennials have not ventured into an AlphaGraphics Printing Facility unless they have been trained for a design background.  We are also finding out that the trained designers are being trained for all things Internet and very little print.  In a lot of cases, we have to train our young customers on what it takes to have something printed on an offset press or that things need to be presented differently if they want to take an Internet page and convert it into a printed piece.

The Millennials are not only a significant portion of today's market but they will be the dominate portion of the overrall market in the future. So we will need to learn how to promote ourselves to them.  They will eventually learn the value of the printed piece so we must be patient in teaching them the benefits of print, combined with the digital presentation.

Previously, I published a Blog post on this subject.  You can find my thoughts at:

At AlphaGraphics Printing in Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona, we do more than just print.  We are also marketing and communications consultants familiar with annual marketing plans, website design, SEO, SEM, Email marketing, direct mail campaigns, news releases and blogging.  We can be reached at the following websites:

Alphagraphics Mesa Printing and Marketing
Alphagraphics Tempe Printing and Marketing
AlphaGraphics Phoenix Printing and Marketing

Follow us on Twitter at:  @steveadams291

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Benefits of Social Media

I ran across this new video on how certain businesses can identify how they have benefited from being active in the Social Media arena.  You can see how the numbers can be mind numbing.

Social Media Video:

Wondering how Social Media applies to you and your business? Tired of battling through all that misinformation and theory, when what you really want to see is hard numbers? Still trying to decide if the time investment is worth it? Watch this video, "Social Media ROI: Socialnomics," to see how other big name brands are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to boost sales, awareness and excitement.

Maybe all of this Social Media Activity is worth it. I have often wondered how I am benefiting my AlphaGraphics Printing and Marketing business by being on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  This video helps to quantify what can happen if you devote some attention to Social media.

You can always contact us at the following websites:

AlphaGraphics Mesa on Baseline - Printing and Marketing
AlphaGraphics Tempe on Elliot - Printing and Marketing
AlphaGraphics Phoenix - Northwest Valley - Printing and Marketing

Follow me on twitter: @steveadams291

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How We Use Twitter in Our Printing Business

In conversations that I have with business associates and my fellow AlphaGraphics owners, we frequently start discussing what each of us is doing in the Social Media area.  As most of my followers know, I am very active with postings to my blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  I have just started experimenting with Namyz, but that is really a job search site and I am not actively looking for a job.  When we start talking about Twitter, I get a lot of questions about how Twitter could possibly benefit my business.

How can posting a 140 character status update a few times a day possibly benefit my business.  In one of my older blog postings, I referred to Twitter as the "Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona" application.  Most people have this impression of Twitter.  I'm at the coffee shop. I am having a bad week. I can't sleep. My flight is delayed.  I'll be glad when my kids are back in school.  I think I have seen almost all of these status updates on Twitter over the last several months.

So, how do I use Twitter? First, I use it as a resource tool.  I am immersing myself in the marketing and social media areas of my business.  I have started following many experts in this field, both their blogs and their Twitter accounts. By following these people on Twitter, I get a sense of what they are reading, thinking and saying at all times.  Some of the people I am following in this regard are John Jantsch, David Meerman Scott, Chris Brogan, Lisa Barone, Matt Cheuvront, Lee Odden and Seth Godin.  Every day I find someone else I should follow in order to learn more in this area. When these people post, they often give a URL link to either their latest blog post or to an interesting blog post that they just read that is informative and educational. I especially like following Lisa Barone on Twitter because she not only has a lot of insightful things to say, but she also is very entertaining.

The second way I use this tool is to keep up with what is happening in our communities.  Following entities such as the local chambers, the united ways, various city departments, certain news reporters and politicians. Following these sources on Twitter allows me to keep current with what is happening without having to refer to their specific websites for my information.

The third way I use Twitter is to promote my AlphaGraphics websites, my blog postings (this may be the way you got to this posting) and various aspects of what is happening in our business.  Since our business is mainly business-to-business, I do not use Twitter to broadcast any promotional offerings because I believe that the fastest way to lose followers on Twitter is to start promoting specific services. The hardest thing I found to do with Twitter is to grow a following of local businesses and customers.  I do spend some time searching for companies that have a Twitter account in the areas where by printing businesses are located.  I then start to follow them with the hopes that they will someday start following me.  I have had some recent success of growing my local business contacts on Twitter but this is a big work in process for me.

At the time of this posting, I am currently following about 300 people and I have approximately 150 followers.  I am finding that following 300 people on Twitter is becoming somewhat overwhelming when it comes to following postings.  Since a lot of people I follow make their livings by posting to Twitter and by blog postings, these people put out a lot a stuff. There will come a time where I will have to stop following the postings of all the people I am following and start to identify only those people that I have an interest in.

So, how are you using Twitter.  I would like to know.  Leave a comment below and give me your thoughts on how Twitter benefits your business or how Twitter seems to be a major waste of time. 

You can always contact us at the following websites:

AlphaGraphics Mesa on Baseline - Printing and Marketing
AlphaGraphics Tempe on Elliot - Printing and Marketing
AlphaGraphics Phoenix - Northwest Valley - Printing and Marketing

Follow me on twitter: @steveadams291

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The View From a Declining? Industry

Is print dead? Do we need to renew the print industry? Why are direct mail volumes down? Has social media replaced the need to print marketing pieces? Has print become such a commodity item that all printing needs can be met by online printers? Will everything go back to where it was before the recession hit?

Those of us in the printing industry have all asked these questions and we continue to ask these questions, sometimes without answers. Its no secret that revenues in the overall printing industry are down, advertising revenues are down, the post office is hemorraging red ink and public relations firms are struggling.  By the time that a full recovery is achieved by our economy, I will lose quite a few of my competitors who will just close up shop because of the hard times.

I have often ranted about how my competitors are pricing themselves out of business.  It is one thing to price from a position of strength (Walmart for example).  It is something else to price from a position of weakness.  Pricing at, or below, cost has always been a formula for disaster.  However, I can symphatize with businesses that are forced to use this as a marketing strategy.  It is hard to anticipate how much in costs and expenses that need to be cut in a declining market. To battle the loss of revenues, you can either cut your costs or find ways to increase your revenues.  The panic to increase revenues at all costs results in pricing decisions that would not be made in normal times.  They see that other printing companies are pricing at significant discounts and therefore they should price at those levels even though the pricing provides no profits or overhead coverage.  This is a formula for disaster.

So here are my thoughts on the future of print

No, print is not dead.  Yes, some may say that we are shopping for the best hospice center, but there is still life in this old bird. We are already seeing a resurgence in the need to have the printed piece in any company's marketing effort.  Businesses are starting to see that SEO, SEM and Social Media efforts, while significantly cheaper, are not always reaching the eyeballs intended, especially in a business-to-business environment.  Sure, print volumes will stay depressed as the trend towards shorter runs will continue, but the added value of personalized promotion pieces will offset some of those revenue declines.

The loss of some printers will not be bad.  Not only will some of the bad pricing that is happening start to decline, but the excess capacity of equipment and print employees will start to level out.  I hate to be a person who roots for their competitors to leave the business, but there are way too many printers in the market who are not properly acting as responsible business people.

The printing industry does need to renew itself. We have to be more marketing oriented.  Becoming marketing consultants to small and medium sized businesses will be a difficult transition, but it is a neccessary transition over a period of time.  A significant knowledge of marketing planning, website design, creative content, email marketing, SEO requirements, SEM, personalized direct mail (and email), blogging, demographic profiling, large format signage and fulfillment activities will be neccessary for the printer of the future.

Equipment purchases will no longer be the name of the game.  It used to be that a printer's status hinged on what equipment was in the portfolio.  The bigger the press, the better the printer and the more that printer received in revenue.  This will no longer be the case. Most of the digital equipment that is in an up-to-date printer will satisfy the needs of the on-demand and variable markets. Employee training and knowledge will become the focus of the new printer. We will need specialists in creative, website design, SEO and the other marketing arenas.

You can reach us at AlphaGraphics at the following websites:

AlphaGraphics Mesa on Baseline-Printing Services 480-844-2222
AlphaGraphics Tempe on Elliot-Printing Services 480-413-1900
AlphaGraphics Phoenix - Northwest Valley-Printing Services 602-234-2944

Follow me on Twitter at: @steveadams291

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