Monday, March 26, 2012

Print arguably still at the center of modern communication everywhere

Say what you will about the iPhone, Android tablets, iPads, Kindle and the rest.  This Australian Print Industry Association video makes a very valid point.  Print solutions providers such as those specializing in packaging labels, tickets and specialty form manufacturers as well as digital printers are not on the decline since the  advent of the technology, but actually doing quite well.  Newspapers, magazines and books have clearly fallen off and have seen obvious direct impact from the proliferation of the digital books, ezines, emails and blogs like this which make it possible to reach thousands of people without a single printed page, but what many people do with posts like this is actually print them out and distribute them, post them on cubicle walls and otherwise still use digital printers.  In addition to the continued strength of digital press and variable data printing the specialty paper based packaging products, bags, and ticket printers remain robust around the world just as HP, Xerox and the other digital print engine manufacturers thrive through innovation. 

Kodak Prosper S10 system achieves 600 x600 dpi at 1000 ft per minute variable print

Monday, March 19, 2012

Save the Date 4/25: Join Raj at his book signing at Barnes & Noble, Bowie, MD

book signing event 4/25/12
Please join Raj if you live in the metropolitan Washington, DC or Baltimore region for his book signing event on April 25th
at 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore located at
Bowie Town Center.
Their will be copies in stock if you haven't already picked up a copy from Amazon or Item Trader or our eStore.    Please save the date, and tell your colleagues about this event.  Meet Raj and celebrate the launch of his book on business and leadership.

For directions or more information please call Barnes & Noble, or use the map and links to the store site:
Bowie Barnes & Noble
Bowie Town Center
15455 Emerald Way
Bowie, MD 20716

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marketing isn't just ordering trinkets for tradeshows or breakfasts any more

Are you getting your money's worth out of the marketing data that is available to your organization?  Do you have a mobile/social marketing strategy that can give you quantifiable data that proves your return on investment.  (Of course if you invest 0 you probably think you're ahead of the curve, but you'd be wrong).  Can you actually put a sales number, meaning you got x number of sales from a specific coupon measured with a dynamic code or specific marketing or ad campaign that you paid for?

How many of you just think it's smart to spend just a few bucks for postage and just send a few hundred or a few thousand postcards out to addresses harvested for free or near free?  How many of you figure that if just one of those postcards reaches the intended audience and either comes in, calls back or refers someone to you that you're ahead of the cost curve? 

I ask you to take that scenario and ask yourself "compared to what?" 

Can you quantify such an effort in terms of cash flows and profits?  Sure you didn't spend much, but how much was just pure wasted message reaching an uninterested recipient? 

The video above shows what CMO's do in their enterprises, and IBM is the best in the world at managing data, but you don't need to spend a lot of money to harvest, analyze and manage this wealth of information that is freely available to you from your existing web site and systems.  Blogger is completely free and comes with very nice analytics that tell you at least where people came in from.  What other applications do you think you need to remain competitive and relevant in the world of social media and the blogosphere? 

Here are 4 questions to help you figure out where you can focus your marketing efforts including your direct mail, video email, blogs, social media pages, white papers, case studies, sell sheets and branded collatoral, all consistent with your web image and message:
  1. Do you know who came to visit or watch your video or observe your published content and when?
  2. Do you know where they came from?
  3. Do you know where they went after they watched your video or looked at your content?
  4. Do you know why they came to look at your content? 
If you don't know the answers to those questions and don't positively control the analytics and the data to give you those answers, then you are not maximizing the free or practically free technology that is available to you.  That is why consultants exist, to offer expertise on subjects like this to allow you to focus on your core competency.  Talk to a marketing consultant who understands the value of data management and analytics and thinks in terms of conversion and ROI like a CMO rather than the marketing professionals who focus on flashy design, nice breakfasts at the Chamber, or obsessing on the basket of trinkets you should offer at the next tradeshow or other event. 

Expect more from marketing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Prioritize for a purpose driven business life

How many of you prioritize every single task that you undertake in a day?  Do you use something like a 4-way test to prioritize your activities?  In the same vein as Rotary International members who put decisions through a 4 way test asking: 
Is it the truth? 
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned? 

You can similarly steer your entrepreneurial venture along the right path by making sure that you and your employees are focused on the right activities all the time.

I suggest to many colleagues and friends that we also follow a priority rule before engaging in activities. While I like and apply the Rotary 4-way test, I also apply the following 4-way test for my business time in activities (like internal meetings) by asking the following 4 questions: 
  1. Is it going to improve positive cash flow?
  2. Will it better establish or improve customer relationships?
  3. Will it control costs or improve our capital?
  4. Will it benefit our infrastructure?
If I can't answer yes to those 4 things, I realize it's probably a waste of money or time and stop what I'm doing or make it clear to people I am not interested in attending an event.  I have to question what the benefit will be to me as much as my employer, business or family.  I must stay focused on everything I'm doing for the purpose of my business success and life success.  Looking at activities this way helps me stay focused when I'm juggling the day's  priorities.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Informative video demonstrating the process of standard perfect binding for short run book production, typically produced on demand by publishers and print on demand book printers who specialize in this area. Process and options are very similar just about everywhere.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Alright, I'm going to just accept the reality that we are moving to a paperless world as fast as we can.   Especially with the efficiencies that can be gained from electronic medical records or in the lingo of the professionals (EMR).  Fujitsu has done a very nice job of positioning themselves as the hardware vendor of choice when it comes to telling their stories through these case studies and advertisements running to look like they were articles written by objective journalists in the Atlantic.  I'm all about telling good stories.  But let's be honest here.  If your medical practice, or office already has a network multifunction device which includes any kind of desktop MFC made by Brother or anyone else in the last few years that works on a network, those machines perform pretty well.  When it comes to software that can do the job to OCR images and categorize them, you can find a bunch of great software products like Abby Fine Reader or the Virtualscan software which works with everything.  They are open source on purpose. 

If you are stuck with a proprietary type of system of hardware and software which does not offer much flexibility to do image capture and doesn't "read" the document through an optical character recognition capability and doesn't really give you any real ability to categorize, or save image files coded to correspond virtually to match up logically to your system of managing your physical documents, the conversion could seem to be pretty daunting and a painful exercise. 

This case study on Synergy which scans 5000 documents a day ranging from business card sized to legal size documents by Fujitsu scanners which scan at 40 to 80 letter size images per minute (in b/w or monochrome mode and 30 to 60 in full color scan mode) with a 50 pg document feeder (they don't say at what resolution, but I'm assuming a high enough 300 dpi monochrome resolution) to print out if needed from their central image file repository.  This particular case study highlights an efficient migration to electronic medical records and the benefits gained:
I don't doubt case studies at all, but you have to take them with a grain of salt.  Your office's existing equipment like that typical digital Multi-Function-Center device that you probably share on a network in a workgroup network, also probably has the ability to act as the scanner capable of doing all of the same things as the Fujitsu hardware or any other hardware out there.  I've seen plenty of small dental and medical practices already going to town on their paper patient records scanning them with whatever they have and chipping away at their EMR compliance issues.  Most of these scanners are the little desktop MFC devices that they picked up for just a couple hundred bucks, and they are working just fine. 

Those smaller versions can't handle a daily volume like the higher end networked devices and are not the most efficient way to accomplish the task, but you'd actually be surprised how robust some of those desktop laser printer, multi-function-center devices actually can be with a little know how from an employee who has played with it, and read the manual or has the time to talk to tech support and explain what they want the machine to do.  Those $400 or $500 desktop machines can actually scan using their built in document feeders that would rival the big boy network scanner speeds.  I found my Brother MFC 8460N (which is about 7 or 8 years old) prints at 32 pgs per minute can also scan monochrome images at about 20 pgs per minute when set to scan letter size documents at 300 dpi b/w (monochrome) scan (and a whole lot faster if I lower the resolution down to 200 DPI or 150 DPI which is the equivalent of fax image resolution).  The scanner has a built in 25 pg document feeder and doesn't take mixed sizes easily, but really requires prepped documents (meaning no staples or post-it notes, and everything basically oriented the same direction for the most efficient scanning).  The basic Brother scanning software as well as standard Windows document image management tools easily handle the document management and file saving requirements.  Like almost all scanning projects, the devil is in the preparation of documents to feed. 

My recommendation is to have someone internally knowledgeable about how to use your MFC and your records management system architecture.  Then put a plan in place as to where the images are going to be stored, in what format and in what logical naming or sequencing of virtual patient folders.  If there is no one internally with the time to do this then consider hiring a temporary project scanning consultant to come in and do this for you on site on your existing equipment or tell them to bring their equipment, or make recommendations as to what you should buy for your site that they can use for this project and that your staff will continue to use going forward (unless your office plans to go completely paperless after scanning all your existing records).
An overlooked source for expertise on how to do something like this could be your commercial digital print vendor.  They actually know a lot about document scanning requirements, records file management and HIPAA compliance (especially if they also print your prescription pads with security features like thermochromic inks and other compliance features), but if they don't know specifically what scanning solution will work for your office, I'll wager they know someone who is an expert and not out to just sell you a scanner or software solution.

Electronic medical records requirements may be new and the conversion may seem daunting, but document management solutions are nothing new to digital printers, and not really that complicated to them because they all have a system that works for them with robust commercial software and hardware that they deploy internally for their own print for pay environment and file management.  I suggest looking at this current challenge of EMR compliance like a barbecue grill fire that has flamed up a little too high for comfort.  You don't need to buy a fire engine to put out the flames.  First try shutting the grill lid, if that doesn't work, then consider getting the fire extinguisher or garden hose.  If that doesn't do it, then call the fire dept.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Commentary for all you creative marketers out there playing with personalized URLs and general URLs with your variable data printing. I've always been a fan of Frank Romano's industry knowledge with Print On Demand.