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Sand Sinclair , Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

Sand Sinclair is Editor-in-Chief of imageSource magazine, a leading B2B trade publication for document imaging & office solutions for nearly 14 years. Sand is the former editor of Office World News and Office Furniture & Design, sister publications of imageSource. Sand additionally holds the title of ITEX Expo & Conference Director, overseeing the annual trade show’s conference / education agenda, information and special projects, including imagesource’s Perfect Image Awards for dealers as well as the ITEX/imageSource Advisory Council, consisting of industry leaders and peers. Sand’s publishing, communications and general media experience in the office trade, both print and digital, also include past TV scripting and live broadcast reporting for special events in NYC, Los Angeles and South Florida.


Sand's Exchange
27 May, 2016

RISO Announces New Inkjet Products at Dealer Event

Jim Hamilton, senior analyst for InfoTrends shares his May 26, 2016 blog:

RISO has had high-speed inkjet in its ComColor line since 2005. At its recent Americas dealer event (May 18-19 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas) it announced product line updates as well as some production-oriented news for the upcoming drupa trade show (May 31 to June 10 in Dusseldorf, Germany). RISO’s ComColor products have always straddled the line between office use and light production. With the announcement of these two new offerings the company is differentiating the product family to target the products to the right customers.

RISO - Caesars Palace - 400
The new inkjet products are the GD9630 and the FW5230. RISO calls the GD9630 “Professional Inkjet” or “Pro-Jet” while it uses the term “Business Inkjet” or “Biz-Jet” for the FW5230:

 

RISO ComColor FW - 400

At drupa in Hall 05 (Stand C20) RISO will have two technology demonstrations:

  • The RISO T1 – A compact full-color roll-fed duplex inkjet printer with a 20” (507 mm) web and productivity of 565 pages of A4 print per minute (running at 42 meters per minute / approx. 140 feet per minute).
  • The RISO T2 – A full-color cut-sheet duplex inkjet printer capable of 300 ipm (150 duplex A4 pages per minute). The device combines two ComColor engines to achieve this level of productivity.
RISO T1 (left) and T2 (right) Technology Demonstrations (Source: RISO)

RISO T1 (left) and T2 (right) drupa 2016 Technology Demonstrations (Source: RISO)

In other RISO news:

  • The parent company, RISO Group, was founded in 1946 and will celebrate its 70th anniversary in September. 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of RISO, Inc. (the U.S. division).
  • RISO Group sponsors a Japanese soccer team, the Kashima Antlers. Other sponsors in the soccer league include big names like Panasonic and Toyota.
  • RISO, Inc. has been moving its distribution model in the U.S. away from direct operations and more toward dealers. Only about 10% of its U.S. business in 2015 was through direct sales. The company’s strategy is to grow its business through its dealers.
  • RISO has two product lines: inkjet and digital duplicators. The newest RISO digital duplicator is its SF Series. This single-drum, 150-ppm, 600 by 600 dpi product will be available on September 1st of this year.
  • With the new product announcements RISO is using the tagline: “Printers for Endless Possibilities”

InfoTrends Opinion

With ComColor, RISO has had a very fast inkjet printer for many years now (30,000+ installations worldwide). As new cut-sheet inkjet products move downstream, it is interesting to note the position that RISO has had in the production market with high-speed capabilities and some innovative in-line finishing (for envelope feeding, perfect binding, and envelope insertion). Looking to drupa, the RISO technology demonstrations and the introduction of the ComColor GD9630 will certainly turn a few heads due to the product’s high-speed and low capital acquisition price.

Note the RISO logo on the back of the Kashima Antlers’ jerseys (Source: Kashima Antlers)

Note the RISO logo on the back of the Kashima Antlers’ jerseys (Source: Kashima Antlers)

I will be at drupa next week. Follow me on Twitter (@jrhinfotrends) for updates.

By:


20 May, 2016

Xerox Announces Workflow Solutions Spanning a Variety of Vertical Areas

Anne Valaitis, analyst for InfoTrends, blogs this week (May 19, 2016) on new solutions for Xerox, saying:

Today Xerox announced a new set of workflow automation industry solutions in higher education, retail banking, and manufacturing; advancements in personal and office productivity capabilities; as well as ConnectKey innovations aimed at enhancing the managed print services (MPS) offering. Xerox also announced new revenue opportunities, tools, and operational processes for MPS channel partners.

On May 5th, Xerox held a call with industry analysts to discuss the new offerings prior to the official announcement. Mike Feldman (President of Large Enterprise Operations) highlighted the recent financial performance of the company’s document outsourcing business—which includes managed print services (including workflow automation) and centralized print services. Mike noted that in the first quarter, this business experienced one of its best quarters financially. The business, which generates approximately $3 billion in annual revenue, achieved 5.0% year-over-year growth on a constant currency basis. Half of this additional revenue occurred within the larger enterprise customer segment, while the other half stemmed from their indirect channel MPS business.

Feldman noted that the relatively high contract renewal rate in the services business (89%) contributed to the quarter’s strong performance. Xerox’s first quarter news release also mentioned that growth was driven primarily from the company’s partner print offerings, reflected in equipment and annuity revenue, as well as from strong equipment sales related to higher prior-period signings.

Xerox has released many workflow automation solutions, and the goal with these solutions is to enable their customers to transform their work and take advantage of the digital technologies we all carry and use, but sometimes struggle to use in a work context (e.g., mobile devices). These solutions reduce and eliminate the need to have paper and print inside of business.

Xerox Wkfl 1

Xerox’s workflow automation solutions are built on a few core platforms. For the personal and office productivity space, it is a highly mobile environment people are working in. Therefore, the two main platforms supporting these solutions are Digital Alternatives 2.0 and DocuShare for repository and content management. There is also deep integration of Xerox’s office tools with the multifunctional peripherals (MFPs).

Many of the workflow automation solutions are utilizing Hyland OnBase’s capabilities, as well as integration tools for ERP systems and systems of records. For high volume multi-data capture requirements, mostly for government to citizen (GTC) and business to customer (B2C), capabilities from Top Image Systems (TIS) are leveraged. Hyland OnBase and TIS are the core platforms underlying Xerox’s workflow automation solutions in intelligent capture and process management. For some of the solutions (particularly at the departmental level), Xerox continues to leverage their DocuShare platform.

In addition to the new workflow automation solutions, Xerox announced their new Support Assistant with ConnectKey. In the past when the MFP was being serviced or disabled, end users often had limited information on the service status level. Xerox’s Support Assistant App lets customers see real time incident status details at the MFP device. The app focuses on most common services and supplies incident scenarios with a simple and user-friendly messaging system that is available in 11 languages. The app offers users improved productivity and peace of mind.
Furthermore, According to Xerox, their channel partners will receive reduced operation costs as well as enhanced customer satisfaction and retention with the Support Assistant App, in addition to a competitive differentiator.

xerox wkfl 2

With these announcements, InfoTrends sees Xerox maintaining a key position in creating a strong workflow automation portfolio that targets several major vertical market processes while focusing on the priorities of their customers for example, security enablement. Support for partners and the channel is evident in the newest announcements and we see this as validation of their strategy.

For information on InfoTrends, visit http://www.infotrends.com

By:


19 May, 2016

Good Marketers Agree: Facebook Rules

Caysey Welton, a contributor to “min” - a valuable news source for marketers, reports in her May article the latest on preferred social media sites use to deliver your marketing messages. Welton says:


The implication that Facebook is an important marketing channel is old news. What’s not old news is exactly how much marketers value it.

According to a recent study by socialfresh, “The Future of Social Media,” 96% of marketers say Facebook generates the best ROI. The 551 digital marketer respondents were allowed to select up to three. Twitter polled second at 63.5% and Facebook-owned Instagram third at 40%.

Facebook also dominates frequency and investment. The respondents were asked which networks they advertise on at least once a month, and the order remains the same: Facebook 61%, Twitter 32%, Instagram 30%. The order of importance shifts, however, when the respondents were asked which networks they plan to invest the most over the next year. Facebook remains tops at 76%, but Instagram edges out Twitter with 42% and 41%, respectively.

Despite all the buzz, Snapchat placed last with respondents in all the previously mentioned questions, including where marketers plan to invest. Only 11% of marketers indicated they will increase investment on Snapchat over the next year, which reasonably raises questions about just how “emerging” this platform really is.

(Source: www.minonline.com  - May 2016)

By:


20 Apr, 2016

The Making of a Tree Planting Engine

Dear Friends,

On every Earth Day, I take inventory of our company progress as it aligns with our mission.  Because our product, PrintReleaf, provides an environmental solution, Earth Day is both an annual measuring stick and a reminder of our mission.  However, “our” mission is shared through a global network of partners and their customers. 

When we launched our company “live” into the office print marketplace two years ago, we had one single pilot partner signed up and only a handful of test customers.  As of today we have now built a growing global network of 10 international distributors, 92 channel partners/dealers, and over 1,000 end customers.  In the coming weeks, we will launch a new distribution partnership in Europe and announce our first major OEM partnership.  In March of 2016, we ‘releafed’ over 12,000 trees.  With approximately 20 business days in a calendar month and approximately 10 working hours in the average business day, we can proudly say that our daily rate of reforestation (our DRR) is 600 trees / working day …which is exactly 1 tree per working minute.  That is the power of a partner network and the making of a tree planting engine.

This was our mission from day one, i.e., to unlock the power of the internet and connected devices and initially weave our service into the fabric and workflow of managed print services (MPS) to build a highly scalable reforestation platform.  While releafing one tree per minute is a nice accomplishment, we feel we’re only scratching the surface.  Opportunity abounds in the office print marketplace and beyond (graphic, commercial and retail print et al) to grow our network of partners and customers over 100x.  In simple terms, that means we could increase our rate of reforestation to 100 trees per minute or more.

It’s with this enormous opportunity in mind, that we leverage the platform and megaphone that Earth Day provides to share our value proposition for partners and customers. 

Partners and resellers have a choice.  They can choose to meet or beat customer demand for eco-friendly products and solutions at - or ahead - of the curve.  Both choices emerge at the intersection of PrintReleaf’s offering to automatically measure and certifiably releaf (reforest) a customer’s paper consumption. 

Customers have a choice.  They can choose to be environmentally conscious… or not.  Recent survey data published by Office Depot points to a positive and increasing trend for the former.  In fact, their index reveals 50 percent growth in SMB’s interest in going ‘greener’ between 2013 and 2016.   

Additionally, we consistently receive feedback from partners and their end customers that PrintReleaf provides education and awareness to their employees; helping them to become more environmentally conscious and mindful of their own consumption….which in turn yields more value in the partner and customer relationship.  In the coming weeks, to amplify this feedback, we will publish a vertical market analysis and a series of case studies to share customer perspectives and success stories across multiple industries.

Today, 195 countries from around the world will join together to sign a landmark climate agreement stemming from the global climate summit in Paris (COP21) in December of 2015.  Whether it’s an entire country, a small business, or an individual, we can all play a helpful role in both protecting and rebuilding our environment .  So this year on Earth Day, as you may reflect on your own company’s environmental mission, we invite you to join ours as we collectively grow our tree planting engine together.

 

Jordan Darragh is Founder and CEO of PrintReleaf. For detailed info visit http://www.printreleaf.com


18 Apr, 2016

Salesforce steals the show in AIM revenue growth

In the latest article/blog from FierceCIO /FierceMarkets writer Alyssa Huntley, she cites that: 

Gartner has released data on application infrastructure and middleware, or AIM, software revenue, with revenue totaling $23.9 billion in 2015, only a slight increase from 2014, driven mainly by growth in platform as a service. While others still lead in actual revenue numbers, Salesforce took the lead when it came to revenue growth. 

Gartner explained that the 0.1 percent increase since 2014 would be higher if growth hadn't been "masked" by the appreciation of the U.S. dollar. If you view the numbers in terms of constant currency, the market actually grew 7.8 percent.

Fabrizio Biscotti, a research director at Gartner, explained that PaaS growth didn't only lead in the AIM market, "but across the entire enterprise software market."

"Integration PaaS grew 55 percent in U.S. dollars, while application PaaS grew 40 percent, despite headwinds from the appreciating U.S. dollar," Biscotti said.

While IBM, Oracle and Microsoft led the pack when it came to actual 2015 revenue from AIM software, it's Salesforce that blew up in terms of revenue growth. Between 2014 and 2015, IBM and Oracle both saw a slowing in growth, down 12.8 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively, while Microsoft saw modest 5.3 percent growth.

Company

2015 Revenue

2015 Market Share (%)

2014 Revenue

2014-2015 Growth (%)

IBM

6043.2

25.2

6926.5

-12.8

Oracle

3173.1

13.3

3298.2

-3.8

Microsoft

1114.8

4.7

1058.8

5.3

Salesforce

1010.2

4.2

740.4

36.4

TIBCO Software

593.0

2.5

640.9

-7.5

Others

120006.6

51.1

11260.4

6.6

Total

23941

100

23925

0.1

Source: Gartner

Salesforce plowed over these numbers, gaining a whopping 36.4 percent in growth between 2014 and 2015. While it may be lagging behind leader IBM in terms of actual revenue – IBM took home just over $6 billion, while Salesforce hung around the $1 billion mark – it's clear that Salesforce is playing a rather serious and successful game of catch-up.

This showing offers insight on how cloud-only firms are taking up some of the space in this market, the press release noted.

"Salesforce's strong performance, as well as steady growth in the 'Others' category, underlines the trend of cloud-only firms and smaller specialists picking up market share at the expense of traditional vendors in this space," Biscotti said.

"The growth of iPaaS and aPaaS has, largely, not worked out to the benefit of the market incumbents," Biscotti noted.

Older technology may still be the first choice when it comes to demanding application scenarios, but cloud has evolved and now offers more agility, scalability and efficiency. A transition to cloud services and the onset of innovation around the Internet of Things is driving spending away from traditional tech and toward "event-driven analysis and processes," according to Gartner.

"2015 was the year that iPaaS became a serious alternative to traditional software-based integration approaches," said Keith Guttridge, a research director at Gartner. "Buyers are choosing iPaaS due to its lower entry costs, reduced operational demands and improved productivity. Vendor interest in this space is also growing rapidly, with the number of offerings doubling in the past 12 months."

For more: 
- read the Gartner press release

By:


28 Mar, 2016

7 Secrets to Excellence in Managed IT Services: A Partner Q&A

TN/MA - March 2016 - Our [Continuum's] awesome partner, ImageQuest, was recently recognized for excellence in managed IT services, and we could not be more thrilled! Named to CRN's 2016 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category, ImageQuest, formerly an office equipment (OE) company, sets an example all MSPs should strive to achieve.
 
While there's no "one size fits all" managed services approach, to provide more context around a business model that's proven to pay off and help his company successfully pivot, we reached out to ImageQuest CEO Milton Bartley to learn more. What does he attribute to their impressive growth, and what sales tactics could you consider emulating? We cover it here!
 
 
1. What do you attribute to ImageQuest's recognition for excellence in managed IT services? 
 
"I think our story resonates. We are disciplined and deliberate about our business, and that has translated into some serious growth over the past three years. Not just revenue growth, but profitability and market footprint as well. It takes a team of committed individuals to build and grow a business in today’s world of rapidly changing technology, and we have that at ImageQuest."
 
2. What unique sales approach was ImageQuest selected for, and can you describe it?
 
"We call it Chocolate Cake. We don't sell any of the pieces and parts (ingredients) as it relates to IT as one-off solutions. We believe a customer cannot take those ingredients, mix them up, and make the cake taste as good. They simply don't have the expertise; they don't have the refined and perfected recipe; they don't have the years of experience; they don't have the dedicated team who does this day in and day out for every customer. We learned to say no to clients who simply want to buy ingredients."
 
3. Can all MSPs benefit from this approach? If not, who'd find it valuable?
 
"Each MSP has to find their own version of Chocolate Cake. For some, that will look a lot like our cake. For others, it will be a hybrid break-fix and managed services offering. Yet, for others it will be a focus on a certain suite of products like backup and disaster recovery (BDR) or telecommunications. The important thing is for the MSP to clearly define their client and their offering, and have the discipline to stick to it."
 
4. How do you systematize your managed IT services offering, and what is the benefit of this?
 
"This is one of our biggest struggles. We are constantly working to create, refine, validate, and manage to standard processes. The more we have standardized our offering [Chocolate Cake], the easier it has been to systematize. The benefits are two-fold. First, when we follow standard processes and checklists, client satisfaction is higher, and that leads directly to the second, higher margins. Higher margins result from both increased revenue from happier clients, and lower costs as we drive efficiencies in our labor force."
 
5. How do you appear bigger than you really are to clients?
 
"Interesting question. I am not sure we do to all clients, but a few things come to mind. First, we look, speak and act like professional ladies and gentlemen at all levels of our organization. That behavior and appearance makes us appear like a well set-up organization, which we are. Second, we always answer our phones live, and it is always an IT professional on the phone. Prospects are used to calling and talking to voicemail or a call taker/dispatcher; our approach stands out. Third, we approach most client activities as a team. We throw a lot of resources at client meetings - including account managers, outside sales executives, project managers, and senior IT talent, not to mention executives. We try to make every client feel like there is an entire team of talent at their disposal - which in fact there is."
 
6. Why don't you recommend MSPs offer network assessments for free? What success has ImageQuest had in charging?
 
"A free assessment is worthless. If you don't place a value on it, how can you expect the prospect to do so? We have turned the assessment into a competitive advantage in our markets. We conduct a professional business and IT security assessment for every client - and we charge for it. We explain to the prospect that most [read all] of our competitors will offer them a free assessment. In order to do it for free, they will likely send their least talented IT person to do the work. In contrast, our assessments are conducted jointly by a business analyst and a technical analyst. Working together, they utilize a battery of technical tools, business processes, and discovery Q&A with key members of the prospect's executive leadership teams. That level of expertise and professional services has a real value, and prospects are willing to pay for it."
 
Are you a Continuum partner? Continuum’s Network Assessment Modules will help you generate more leads and expand your services portfolio so that you can continue growing your business. Learn more about the various network assessment modules available to you here!
 
7. We hear from so many OEDs that struggle to make the leap to managed IT services. Can you explain how you were able to do it? What support and resources did you require or leverage? What's your advice for other OEDs struggling to market and sell themselves as a competitive MSP? 
 
"My advice is for them to first decide if this is really what they want to do. I don’t believe all OEDs can successfully make the transition to managed services any more than I believe all IT companies could transition to copier and printer sales and service organizations. We were intentional about this transition, and we accepted that our [old] core copier business would suffer as a result. An important concept for OEDs to grasp is the fact that their existing copier/printer customer base is not necessarily an asset in the managed IT space. Success in managed services will never be about selling some things to everyone. Success in managed services is selling everything to the select few." 
 
For further information visit http://www.imagequest.com  or http://www.continuum.net (who posted their IT  partner's blog).  
 
© 2016 Continuum Managed Services 

By:


14 Mar, 2016

Blog: InfoTrends Reviews "The Inkjet Edge"

According to analyst Jim Hamilton, InfoTrends, in his March 9, 2016 blog:  The latest offering from thINK and Canon Solutions America is “The Inkjet Edge: How to Transition Your Business to Inkjet,” a new book that will be a valuable tool for print service providers of all types. The book follows in the footsteps of “The Designer’s Guide to Inkjet,” which was published last year. While “The Designer’s Guide to Inkjet” addressed the practical application of inkjet technology with a focus on design and prepress, “The Inkjet Edge” takes a more business-oriented approach in an effort to help print service providers that are considering, or are in the midst of, an inkjet transition. The book is heavily illustrated and packed with market data and statistics from InfoTrends and I.T. Strategies. It also offers perspectives from a range of print service providers and solutions partners. A concise eleven chapters cover everything from the opportunity and the justification process to the use of color, paper, finishing, and workflow across a range of applications. Also important are two chapters dedicated to data-driven messaging.

Inkjet Edge and thINK Forward adjusted

Particularly valuable are the many quotes from experienced inkjet print service providers. Here are a few examples:

  • Lori Messina, Access Direct: “Full color makes it possible for us to deliver mail pieces that cut through the clutter. We made the commitment to expand our high-speed digital inkjet services to help our customers achieve higher response rates from their mailings while also achieving cost and time savings.”
  • Mark De Boer, Darwill: “Start training the sales people before you get the press. When the press arrives they will already have a good idea of what it can do so you’re not catching up while you have this asset sitting on the floor untapped.”
  • Dave Johannes, IWCO Direct: “The easiest part to underestimate is the workflow. You’ve got to have a workflow that allows you to effectively process, solve, and deliver print-ready files to your presses.”

The book is beautifully produced and demonstrates the strong quality levels possible with inkjet. The stocks come from Glatfelter for the cover (9 pt. Pixelle Superior Matte) and book block (65 lb. Pixelle Superior Matt Text). The cover is laminated using a D&K Laminator with a finish that gives it an appealing soft texture. The easy-to-read design provides a color-coded visual along the edge of the book block that indicates where chapters begin and end. The book was printed using pigment inks on a Canon Océ VarioPrint i300 using an Océ PRISMAproduction workflow. It was finished on a Horizon Cab 5000 perfect binder.

“The Inkjet Edge” is a great example of the continuing impact of the thINK user community (for more see www.thinkforum.com). Canon Solutions America production print customers should definitely consider attending the second annual thINK conference, which will take place October 10th to 12th, 2016, at the Waldorf Astoria resort in Boca Raton, Florida. In the meantime, thINK members can keep up to speed with a new magazine called “thINK Forward” that will be delivered quarterly.

Those interested in getting a copy of “The Inkjet Edge” can purchase it through the thINK website or alternately for $25 through the Printing Impressions web site.

A video version of this review is part of Jim Hamilton’s YouTube series on print samples. Another recent video of interest is one on some Canon Solutions America media catalogs and a booklet that highlights the new ColorGrip feature of the VarioPrint i300. You can find it at this link. A video review of “The Designer’s Guide to Inkjet” from February 2015 can be found here.  

For InfoTrends company information visit http://www.infotrends.com

By:


3 Feb, 2016

What one company did when Winter Storm Jonas threatened their 2016 Kick-off meeting

USA - JAN / FEB 2016 - Middletown, Connecticut:  Winter Storm Jonas proved to pack quite a wallop to much of the North East hitting at least 20 states from Louisiana up to Maine.  That’s why, when over a hundred employees were expected to fill the dining room at a local event venue for an annual kickoff meeting and dinner, they had to make some quick decisions just hours before the day the event was scheduled to take place.  The Aztec Office Solution’s team resolved to forge forward with the event, but unfortunately, the dinner would have to be canceled. That’s when Aztec’s team had a great idea and took quick action.  They arranged to have the food donated to the Connecticut Food Bank.  According to ctfoodbank.org, one in seven people struggle with hunger in Connecticut. The choice was easy, but donating food in this capacity is no easy feat and getting through the red tape to do so could turn off many a novice humanitarian. Thankfully, the paperwork was able to be finished in time and Aztec did indeed pull off their philanthropic endeavor and most importantly, fewer people went to bed hungry in Connecticut that cold winter’s day. 

 “All of us at Aztec Office were excited to have the opportunity to help. When we decided we would skip the scheduled dinner and get our people home early and safely, we realized we had an opportunity to help.  It was great to be able to do some good.” – Steven Roloff, Director of Marketing.

About Aztec Office: Aztec carries a variety of monochrome and color digital copiers, network printers, fax machines and multi-function machines as well as document management and security software solutions. With our extensive and innovative office technology offering, we can deliver the cutting-edge devices that will compliment your business.

 



 

By:


26 Jan, 2016

The 5 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs in 2016

Amid the release of new data* on American small businesses revealing that that, in November 2015, the economic outlook among U.S. small business owners—down nearly 2 points year-over-year—has finally stabilized after a 6-month decline, there’s cause for entrepreneurs to be optimistic for the year ahead.

Whether or not that outlook begins to uptick not only depends upon how agile, adaptable, creative and resourceful entrepreneurs can be in planning for, or reacting to, market conditions, revenue and brand-building opportunities and other key concerns, but also how well they maintain a forward-thinking mindset.  

Towards this end, tomorrow’s smart and successful entrepreneur will have their bases well-covered on these five fronts in particular:

1. Transparency. Operating with transparency used to be a luxury versus a necessity but, now, it's quite mandatory. Millennials in particular, who wield a tremendous amount of influence and purchasing power, make buying decisions based largely on the provenance, manufacturing processes and overall business practices of a particular company. Because millennials are now the largest population in the U.S., to say that transparency will drive how businesses are perceived is an understatement at best. However, the good news is that establishing and maintaining transparency doesn't have to be difficult. Simply communicating regularly with honesty and unequivocally holding yourself, your staff and your company accountable will go a long way toward fostering good will with not only consumers and prospects, but also with vendors, strategic partners and your industry at large.

2. Loyalty. It used to be that only airlines had “loyalty” programs. Now, everybody from giant corporations like Pepsi Co. to mom and pop corner coffee shops have some sort of loyalty program. And, rightfully so. Every industry faces new competition on a daily basis and customers are understandably price sensitive, often buying from whoever has the best sale or perks. However, what loyalty programs really come down to is creating that coveted repeat customer. For instance, airlines offering free first class upgrades or hotels upgrading size of the room for elite travelers often creates an allegiance that trumps price point.  This principle can be applied in every business.  If you’re a service company and a client is at the end of their agreement, offer a specific service at a discount or another deliverable with a high perceived value. Those who do business online can easily build an awards program that fosters a faithful following.   

3. Crowdfunding. The ugly truth is if you need a loan, chances are extremely high you won't be able to get one. In fact, the recent small business study also revealed that the majority—a full 61%--of those who tried to get a favorable loan were unable to do so. Venture capital and private equity funding is equally difficult to come by, if not more. While some types of capital are actually easier to procure, the interest rates are usually more aggressive, often prohibitively so. Instead, focus on crowdfunding and non-traditional lenders such as Bond Street, Kabbage and Deal Struck. According to Massolution’s 2015CF–Crowdfunding Industry Report, global crowdfunding was anticipated to be over $34 billion. A revenue source of that size is simply too big to ignore and not tap into.

4. Pay-for-Play Social Media. Facebook was among the first to implement the "pay-for-play" model by removing organic reach and focusing on paid advertisement.  Since being acquired by Facebook, Instagram is destined to follow.  Pinterest and Twitter are also both currently growing into their pay-for-play systems and will likely make it difficult for pure organic reach as well.  Unfortunately, this means entrepreneurs will need to increase their social media budget. However, Facebook's paid ads have been shown to reach a significantly greater percentage of users than organic posts, making paid ads well worth the investment. However, social media shouldn't only be leveraged as a form of advertising. Rather, social media is an ideal way to handle customer service in such a way that not only improves marketplace loyalty but also your company's transparency endeavor.

5. Instant Gratification. Simply put, if you don’t offer some form of instant gratification your prospective customer will likely go somewhere that does. This truth is particularly problematic for businesses that require information from customers, such as insurance or financial services. Having prospects fill out contact request forms to be contacted later on for products or services is becoming less and less effective in the “Age of Impatience.” To be competitive, you need to deliver to the customer instantaneously in some way, whether that be with the provision of information they are seeking or other deliverable that will satiate them in the moment and keep them interested for a longer term.  Even just offering quicker and more efficient processes in dealing or transacting with your company is certainly a form of instant gratification. At every available touchpoint, strive to impress the customer—an incredibly effective way of evoking that gratified feeling.

No matter what industry you're in or the type of business you run, you can still make a profit no matter what the current economic outlook happens to be. That begins with giving customers what they want, how they want it and in a way that’s more sensitive to marketplace vs. company needs. The above tools will put your business well on its way to doing exactly that, possibly making 2016 your most successful year yet.

 

Brian Greenberg is a multi-faceted entrepreneur who has founded and now spearheads multiple online businesses. He currently co-owns and operates three entrepreneurial companies with his father, Elliott Greenberg, which have each flourished for over 10 years: www.WholesaleJanitorialSupply.comwww.TouchFreeConcepts.com and www.TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com.

Sources:

https://www.thumbtack.com/blog/ess-nov-15/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/millennials_report.pdf

http://www.crowdsourcing.org/editorial/global-crowdfunding-market-to-reach-344b-in-2015-predicts-massolutions-2015cf-industry-report/45376

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-social-media-businesses-trends-you-need-know-2015-ryan-holmes

 


21 Jan, 2016

The MPSA - Year in Review

According to Doug Bies, Vice President, MPSA, and Senior Marketing & Planning Specialist, Canon USA, in his recent blog, Beis reveals an interesting year in review. Bies: comments:  2015 was a unique year in the print industry, the MPSA, and  in my career.  2015 was a unique year in the print industry, the MPSA, and my career.  The MPSA made some huge strides under the new leadership that was sworn in at ITEX in March. The print industry itself continued to evolve with a number of major announcements, while from a career perspective, I accomplished more for the MPSA and Canon than I previously thought possible. 

Although at ITEX in March many of us on the MPSA Executive Committee and Board of Directors already knew one another from within the print industry, none of us knew how we’d work together to evolve the MPSA in 2015. Under Kevin DeYoung’s leadership, the MPSA has made a number of key moves to help evolve into what it is today.  Some of these 2015 accomplishments are listed below.

·       New MPSA Definition – In early December, based on MPSA member collaboration, the MPSA released an update of the definition of MPS.  Although most organizations create their own definition of MPS, the MPSA’s definition holds value because of who created it and is often used by sales organizations to help define MPS to customers

·       New Committee Leadership and Projects – A number of MPSA committees, including Education, Marketing/Communications, and Membership, expanded and gained new leadership.  The Education Committee developed the framework for a playbook called “How to Conduct a Proper Assessment,” which is expected to be released mid-year.  The Standards and Best Practices Committee also progressed on a deliverable around MPS Break/Fix Service Best Practices, which also is expected to be released around mid-year.

·       New Members – Several midsized organizations joined the MPSA and increased their involvement with in the MPSA

·       Increased Board of Directors – The MPSA welcomed two new Directors to the Board in an effort to leverage these members skills and bring value to the MPSA and MPSA members

·       Membership Value Committee – The MPSA created this committee to help better deliver value to the MPSA’s current members, and this group has made great strides since its creation

·       ITEX live meeting – The Executive Committee and Board of Directors met and collaborated over a three-day period at ITEX in Ft. Lauderdale in March 2015, helping lay the framework for what we accomplished in 2015

·       ChannelCon – The MPSA ran a booth on the exhibit floor at ChannelCon and facilitated key meetings amongst members

·       Webinars – The MPSA conducted a number of webinars that presented organically developed content to educate members

 

2015 also featured a number of key industry announcements that will no doubt help to transform the print industry and the MPSA. As page volumes continue to decrease and end users become less reliant on physical paper output, print-centric organizations will continue to evolve. I’ve been lucky to be in a position within Canon to be able to assist with this sort of MPS evolution.  During the past year, I learned a lot at Canon and the MPSA, and this will continue to help me bring value to both organizations for years to come.

 

For more information on the MPSA, please visit our page at… www.yourmpsa.org

(Author):

Doug Bies

Vice President – MPSA

Senior Marketing & Planning Specialist – Canon USA

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