Overdelivering

Overdelivering - England

I’m guessing there were some glum faces in your office yesterday?

Mine too.

The pain of England getting knocked out of a tournament is unlike pretty much anything else, and this pain feels especially bad given that the path to World Cup glory did seem to open up in a seriously surprising way.

However, I know that when the dust settles, I’ll look back on this tournament with fond memories.

The penalty shootout curse is off our backs.

We’ve won a knockout game (two in fact!) for the first time in 12 years.

We’ve got a young, hungry squad, a bright manager and plenty of time to develop, grow and improve.

It’s important to bear in mind that if someone had offered us a semi-final at the start of the tournament, we’d have bitten their hand off.

What we received was way more than what we’d expected. England well and truly overdelivered for us this summer.

And happily, that’s been the case at Expert Print Management this year too.

If you buy a decent amount of print, then you’ll know its not unknown for a print job to end up being delayed, and that can cause a lot of frustration for the person buying the print, who needs it to further their own aims.

Some delays are unforeseen, and you can’t do anything about them, but it doesn’t make them any less frustrating.

That’s why I’m proud to report that when we ran our report at the end of June, every single one of our orders over the last 3 months has been delivered on-time – or early!

I don’t want to blow my own trumpet here, but in the world of print, that’s pretty special.

We won’t rest on our laurels now though – my new aim is to make that six months, then nine months, and then a year.

You get my drift. We’ll continue to strive for perfection, and we’ll continue to get better, just like Southgate’s England.

If you fancy experiencing what striving for perfection in print looks like, just drop us an email at hello@expertprintmanagement.co.uk.

Not that sort of penalty

Not that sort of penalty

You’re probably thinking that this article might have something to do with England’s dramatic penalty shootout win on Tuesday (it’s coming home!).

But it isn’t.

However, it IS about another sort of penalty – the kind that can change behaviour for the better.

This week, the BBC website ran a story about how the University of Winchester managed to reduce their disposable coffee cup usage by 34,000 in just one year, and it was all fuelled by a subtle change in their pricing, rather than some other revolutionary incentive.

For several years, the university had been offering a 25p discount if you brought your own cup – the same incentive Starbucks have been using for a while.

And it worked okay.  But it didn’t reduce the single coffee cup usage enough.

So, after some thought, they changed things around, by reducing the price of the cost of a coffee by 25p, and introducing a 25p penalty if you didn’t bring your own cup.

Nothing really changed – your cost of a coffee would be the same before and after, but psychologically, the idea of penalty was sufficiently unattractive enough to change behaviour.

And in just one year, usage went down by 34,000.

It’s a super smart strategy, and it highlights the power that pricing can have on consumer behaviour – is there anything you can take from it and use in your business?

If you fancy reducing your coffee cup wastage, why not grab some of your own branded coffee cups?  Click HERE to check out our range now.

Just as prevalent

Promotional Products

I don’t know about you, but the world of business feels very different to the one I started out in.

Back when I was fresh-faced and starting out in business, there was no Google.

No Amazon.

No Facebook.

There was no email marketing, or Snapchat, or LinkedIn, or Twitter.

The landscape was entirely different, and consequently so many of the methods that businesses used to generate leads, build brand awareness and make sales were fundamentally different to the way that businesses operate now.

But you know one thing that’s still just as prevalent as it was when I started out over 30 years ago?

Promotional products.

I know that because we still do huge volumes of them.

Whether it’s a pen with your brand name and category of one on it, a reusable coffee cup showcasing your brand or a branded golf umbrella, the Expert Branding side of our business is booming.

You know why people are still using promotional products, even in a world where Google controls huge quantities of the advertising spend, Facebook has the world’s most powerful advertising platform and most people just buy everything on Amazon?

Because they work.

They build trust, they create relationships, they build brand awareness and brand loyalty and they ensure that your brand is in peoples’ consciousness, long after they’ve deleted your email, scrolled past your advert or left your exhibition stand.

The British Promotional Merchandise Association did some research on the power of promotional products last year, and here’s just a selection of the statistics:

  • 79% of people feel appreciated when they receive a promotional gift from a business
  • “Usefulness” is the key criteria when it comes to how well received a promotional product is, so when you’re considering which product to gift or give away, it’s important to think about what your market will find useful.
  • 81% of survey respondents had at least two promotional products on their desk (and nearly half had more than four)

In short, when you get promotional products right, they:

  • Are retained by your prospects
  • Create a sense of appreciation among the people you want to do business with
  • Elevate your relationship with your marketplace
  • Increase your brand awareness and visibility

As you probably know, our Expert Branding website provides world class promotional products, so if you’re about to re-order some more for a show or general stock, or you want to give them a go for the first time, get in touch.

Just send me an email at paul@expertprintmanagement.co.uk and I’ll send you one of our promotional products brochures – be sure to let me know the best address to send it to.

Oh, and if you want to have a conversation about which promotional products could be right for you, you know where I am!

It might seem ‘woo woo’, but…

Woo Woo

Let’s level with each other: we’ve both seen the Simon Sinek video.

We know all about ‘starting with why’, and why ‘what you do’ is only important in the context of ‘why you do what you do’.

I’ve got to be honest, I don’t usually go in for this fluffy, woo-woo stuff.

I’m a print manager, and I’ve been one my whole life.  I serve businesses by providing them the print that helps them with their various initiatives and marketing campaigns.

And on one level, that’s all there is to it.

But I have got a confession to make: I’ve maybe, just maybe, succumbed to the woo-woo, just a little bit.

There I said it.

I’ve never really seen the value in mission statements and ‘corporate values’, and whenever I went to a business event where I had to put them together for MY business, I really struggled.

But the other week, it suddenly all started to make sense.  I sat down at my desk, and wrote out three documents:

  • Our Mission
  • Our Values
  • Our Vision

The starting point was to write down what we already do and identify my thinking behind it.

I then needed to look to the future (cue, woo woo) and try to put into words how I wanted the company to look.

I struggled with this at first, but as it started to come together I realised that it gave me a real buzz!

Because, and here’s the point, I’ve had a couple of ‘opportunities’ that have been bubbling away over recent months.

But interestingly, after writing this Vision statement, I realised they were no longer congruent with my end goal; a goal I was unaware of until I went through this exercise!

Anyway, here they are:

Our Mission

Expert Print Management is a full-service print management company and our mission is to provide you with a hassle free, cost effective way to buy print.

Our continued success nurtures our organic growth but also offers opportunity to growth by acquisition.

Our ‘can do’ attitude, knowledge and skills, combined with great communication and competitive pricing, allows us to advise and supply you with anything and everything ‘print’.

Our Values

Proactive

Integrity

Reliable & Respectful

Caring & Accountable

Professional & Knowledgeable

Friendly & Fun!

Our Vision

To be nationally recognised as a company supplying innovative print & promotional products with the minimum of fuss and jargon.

Our core values are embedded in everything we do from client brief to finished product and fulfilment.

So there you have it – Expert Print Management’s Vision, Values and Mission.

A year ago I might have thought this was all a bit woo-woo, but now, I feel like I’ve got absolute clarity on what my business does, why it does it and where it’s headed. Have you got any similar documents?  I’d love to read them if you’re happy to share…

More manageable and at least two takeaways

As you’ll know if you’re reading this post, I made a commitment a couple of months back to create more content.

I wanted to add more value to my email list and my social media following and build more relationships.

So I made it happen, and the increased conversations and opportunities that I’m getting as a result have made it well worth it – takeaway number one!

Anyway, I always post my email content on LinkedIn to get a better reach (takeaway number two!), and last week I ended up getting a fantastic enquiry as a result.

This week, the work’s come in, and it’s a fantastic project that I’m super excited about getting my teeth into.

But what’s interesting in the reason why this particular business chose to go with us. In the words of their MD:

“I have a lot of things to look after for this client, and I’m sure that you’re what I need to make this more manageable”.

The key word here is “manageable”.

Because we’re not ‘just printers’. We manage the whole job, we’re the perfect service for businesses who have print projects or campaigns made up of multiple parts – essentially we remove the hassle, reduce the cost and get the job done, without our client expending unnecessary time, effort and cost.

So if you’re running multiple or multipart projects, AND you want to save some serious time and cost of managing that print, you know where to turn!

Have a great week!

A smoking concert?

Smoking Concert Ticket

And so now the bank holiday weekend is but a distant memory already…

Following on from last week’s cine footage of my Grandfathers print works from the 1960’s, I wanted to share a little story with you today.

As you may know, our old family business of Gallpen Press Ltd was closed down 18 months ago by its owners.

As a family we still owned the property and finally sold it at the end of last year.

While we were clearing stuff out, we came across some really old print, some of which even pre-dated my dad acquiring the business back in 1983.

It was this piece – the jewel in the crown – that caught my eye:

Smoking Concert Ticket 1895

As you can see from the date, the ticket was advertising a ‘Smoking Concert’ in December 12th 1895 at 8pm, in honour of the families of Bros. Jackson and Bartram.

It’s pretty incredible to see a piece of print this old, and even better, when it’s been printed by a company we owned for many years – it’s a piece of our family heritage.

So, here’s a couple of question for you:

  • Have you got a piece of print that’s older than this?
  • Before you Googled it did you have any idea what ‘A Smoking Concert’ was?!

Oh and finally… Have you got a project that you’d like me to look at that might just be written about in the year 2141?!

Inky Veins

Roberts Printers

I was at an event the other day, speaking to a guy that I do some work with.

And he asked me the age-old question:

“So how did you get started in print?”

I didn’t really know where to start.

You see, it wasn’t like I “found” print.

It was more like I grew up with the ink running through my veins.

Both my grandfather and my father were in print; I can still remember being pulled around the shopfloor, aged 4, on a paper trolley by my father. (I doubt H&S regs would allow that nowadays!)

And when I grew up and it became obvious that i wasn’t going to hit the heady heights of rock stardom (despite the AC/DC audition), print was all I wanted to do.

I loved working with businesses, especially when I’d played a key role in a successful campaign – it was the kind of thing that gave me a real buzz.

Anyway, going back to the ‘family’ side of things – I’ve managed to dig out some cine footage of my grandfather and my father back in the ‘60s – thankfully technology’s moved on a bit since then.

And remember, if you ever want an impartial chat about your print, just give us a shout; we’ve got history!

950 Years Old

Keep Giving

I love Norwich.

I love the people.  I love the countryside.  I love our culture.  I love our history.

And that’s why I’m delighted to share the news that Expert Print Management has become one of the first corporate sponsors for the Norwich Castle Museum’s ‘Keep Giving’ campaign.

If you’re not familiar with the Keep Giving campaign, it’s all about Norwich Castle being transformed back to its original form – the Great Hall and palatial residence of Norman kings. (You can watch a video clip here introduced by Stephen Fry)

It can be so easy for us to take the castle for granted, but when you consider that it’s coming up for 950 years old, you start to appreciate just how amazing it is to have such a rich piece of history in our great city.

Anyway, it’s something that I’m passionate about, which is why I’ve chosen to be a sponsor, and why I’m emailing you about it now.

You see, I don’t think of us as a ‘UK print management company’.  I think of us as a ‘UK print management company with deep roots in Norwich and Norfolk’, and I want that to be reflected in what we do, and how people view us.

I want people to understand that we’re not just about print; we’re about making Norfolk better too.

There’s a simple lesson there: do your customers know what you’re about and what you stand for? And – if we go a little deeper – do YOU know what you’re about and what you stand for?

Smart Covey cookie

Smart Covey Cookie

I’ve not been in the office this week.

But I’m not on holiday. Far from it.

On Monday and Tuesday I attended a business growth event in Bedfordshire with a couple of hundred business owners from all over the UK, and for the rest of the week I hotfooted it up to Liverpool for three days at an Action Coach event.

Of course, I am keeping up with work as and when I get the chance, but the focus of this week is very much on me, and on learning new things that’ll help my business grow.

It’s what Stephen Covey calls ‘sharpening the saw’ in his fantastic book ‘The 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People’.

Covey illustrates his point by using the analogy of a woodcutter.

If a woodcutter just keeps on cutting wood, then the cutting process will get less and less effective, as the saw gets blunter and blunter.

His point is that if the woodcutter stops cutting wood, and focuses some time on getting his saw sharp again, the sawing process will be much more effective – cutting the wood will be easier.

And so it is in business.

So often we can get bogged down in the day-to-day, and as a result we end up becoming less productive and effective than we want to be.

But by taking time out, to ‘sharpen our saws’ and learn new things that help us to perform the tasks we need to more effectively, we can achieve a better end result. 

When was the last time you put down your saw, and reached for the sharpener?

Straight from the horse’s mouth

As you know, we’re coming into “County Show Season”, which means that lots of our clients are getting in touch for stands, brochures and promotional giveaways.

And there was one client in particular that I sat down with to talk about the work he needed us to do in the next few weeks.

After we’d finished talking about his requirements, and got his order in, we carried on “talking shop”, sharing some business strategies and tactics.

One of the things we were talking about is the importance of working out WHY customers keep coming back to you, because the better your understanding of why people buy from you, the easier it is for you to ensure that it’s part of your proposition.

Anyway, for him, he considered Expert Print Management his ‘go to business for print’ because we removed the hassle for him saving him a lot of time, and above all, he trusted in our ability to make it happen.

This was useful feedback, which I’ll be using in my marketing going forward to make sure I communicate the most powerful benefits of working with us.

But I just wanted to share the exercise with you, as it’s well worth you sitting down with some of your best customers to understand WHY they keep buying from you time and time again.

All too often, we can be guilty of assuming what the benefits of our product are, but by getting it straight from the horse’s mouth, we’ve got cold, hard evidence that this is a motivational factor in purchasing decisions.

So, why not give it a go this week?

As it is Exhibition Season, I put a quick blog post together about how to maximise your return from exhibitions. If you’re exhibiting in the next few months, it’s well worth a read – click HERE to read it now.