Growth is a sign of success. When people find out about your product or service, revenues increase, books of business expand, and the work that you take on will become increasingly more demanding. These are all promising signs, but companies often fail to manage the infrastructure within their company to support the growth. What was once a highly functioning marketing department a year ago might today find itself in cramped quarters, struggling to meet the demands that are placed on them.
Hiring new employees in these cases is not always the wisest move – from the hiring process to onboarding and training, not to mention the resources spent on them, companies have increasingly turned to lean marketing strategies. Small and large companies have found that, with the right resources, they can do much more with less people. This is largely done by having superior asset marketing tools.
Is your company struggling with growing pains, or looking for innovative solutions to ease the stress on your marketing department? Below are some helpful tips for growing your marketing operations without adding to your headcount.
Step One: Start by Assessing Your Team’s Capacity to Deliver on Your Marketing Plan
Is your team understaffed, or is it not effectively utilizing all the opportunities available to it? Knowing the difference can be crucial for your success. An understaffed team might not be able to implement all the initiatives that they have planned for the year, simply because they don’t have the manpower to do it. Your team may be understaffed in overall capacity or may simply lack appropriate skills for a specific, planned initiative.
To determine if your marketing organization will have unmet need, identify the skills needed to accomplish both your short and long-term goals and then map your team to the needed skills. Next, tally the number of hours a week each project is expected to take and see how much bandwidth the team has to deliver. It’s very likely you’ll find some gaps, and even if your budget allows for additional headcount, it’s also possible that one or two new hires won’t have all the unique skills required to meet those gaps.
In today’s highly competitive employment market, it could also take many months to bring on new talent and even more time before that talent is ready to execute on key programs. If you sense that activities with the greatest potential to impact revenue may be stalled due to a talent or resource gap, it may be time to move to Step 2.
Step Two: Explore Outsourcing Marketing Functions
Are there tasks within your department that maybe better served with an outside partner? Now that your marketing needs are clearly identified, the gap could be filled by a solid partner who can collaborate with your team to increase the functions of your marketing operations without altering the strategy behind it – devising solutions without compromising the company’s direction. A good outsourced marketing partner may bring efficiencies through the access to fractional resource skills or through access to technology that can help you accelerate your marketing program.
Bringing in an outside source can accomplish two primary objectives when working alongside your company: understanding the challenges that your company is facing and finding the right solutions to solve them. When outsourcing marketing work, there are two common paths: approaching an advertising agency or using an outside vendor and consolidating marketing assets and vendors.
Step 3: Find the Right Outsourcing Partner for Your Organization
An advertising agency will take on the creative and strategic work for your company and function as an independent branch outside of your company. While formally skilled at what they do, they also must rely on other companies for the tactical execution of campaigns. In brief, an agency can help you meet growth goals, but with higher associated costs. Outsourcing all or a part of marketing operations can have a very different result, lowering operational cost, while boosting the bottom line and ensuring that you maintain control of the critical strategic direction of your marketing plan.
Having the time and money to field different vendors for each step of your process is a luxury not all companies have the resources to manage. Placing a systematic approach into your marketing operations eases the headaches of coordinating multiple vendors and frees valuable time that your marketing team can use on higher-value functions that impact revenue.
Outside vendors offer an affordable and effective solution to many of the woes faced by internal marketing departments. However, some of these companies have an international scale or location, meaning that they have a hands-off approach to achieving your goals. Consider finding a local partner to allow you higher control and access to see your work first-hand. Working with a local vendor also simplifies interactions and allows for meeting in person to better share objectives and goals. Many efficiencies can be realized quickly with a trusted, local provider who is readily available to collaborate and respond to specific needs.
Finding your local partner might not be too far with ImageMark located conveniently in the Carolinas. If you are searching for a solid partner to support your marketing team, don’t look too far. ImageMark is ready to support your marketing operations needs with marketing asset management, direct mail and print services, and a full suite of promotional products.
Promotional items are a fantastic way to get your brand name out into the world. Whether it be company water bottles, jackets, or sweatshirts, everybody loves freebies. What companies don’t know is that promotional materials like these can be so much more than a giveaway at a trade conference or a company picnic. These common examples represent just a fraction of what could be a larger marketing effort or employee recognition program.
The enterprising company can implement swag into performance or safety incentives, breathing new potential into promo items that less resourceful companies might consider mere trinkets or trash. Below are seven ways that you can implement promotional items to enhance your company’s potential:
Everybody Loves Swag
I love freebies, you love freebies – everybody loves free stuff. The term “swag” came into popularity in the 1990s, and while the definition evolved with popular slang used at the time, it is less known that the word is also an acronym for Stuff We All Get.1 Many companies implement swag by giving new employees company-branded items such as t-shirts for new hires. These can be quite popular, but often don’t incorporate high-level strategy. Swag can serve many purposes to meet a variety of goals within industries such as manufacturing, sales, and retail.
Incentivizing behavior has been proven to be a successful tactic for many types of businesses. In sales, incentive programs have been shown to improve individual performance by 22%.2 Promotional products offer a better return on your investment than cash. Many companies offer monetary incentives as prizes for reaching goals or deadlines, but these sorts of rewards have a short lifespan. Between gift taxes and general expenses like gas, groceries, and the like, cash prizes evaporate quickly.
Consider this alternative: manufacturing companies have safety incentive programs in place to help create awareness in the workplace. Rather than dishing out money for the correct behavior, reward those that demonstrate the best adherence to safety protocol with a jacket or a cap that draws attention to their achievements in the workplace.
Material goods last longer than cash incentives, while also holding a symbolic purpose. It not only demonstrates their achievements in the workplace, but holds them to standards of achievement that they will want to continue to replicate. When new people on the job ask where Bill got the cool hat, they’ll feel compelled to demonstrate adherence to safety policies so they can get one too.
Community Brand Exposure
How many times have you gone to a restaurant to sign a check only to find that pen in your pocket when you get home? The value of a single pen is rather negligible – the critical benefit is that the company name on that pen has now entered the neutral space of your home. You might not look at that pen every day, but when you do, you’re going to think of the restaurant it came from. When you find yourself at that restaurant later that week, you may not have even realized the subconscious ticks that brought you back.
From t-shirts that you can wear on the weekends to stickers on the back of your laptop, community brand exposure can take many different forms to hit every demographic. Having promotional materials with your logo on it means that you are being represented in the world around you – and people notice. When people are familiar with the name of your company and need a service that you provide, you’ll be the first person they call.
Company branded merchandise is an excellent way to identify your employees inside and outside the workplace. While some merchandise such as casual attire can be an excellent target for branding your logo, think outside of the box. For a manufacturer trying to incentivize safety in the workplace, focus on targeting apparel that is related to that goal. Safety blaze orange and yellow jackets and hard hats with your logo will not only help your team identify each other in the field, but promote safe work practices. Specialized attire for those that most conform to safety practices can be an excellent award and promote leadership standards from within your company.
Long Shelf Life
Earlier we mentioned that switching out monetary rewards with promotional item incentives provides more substantial rewards in the long term. People are going to remember winning a jacket much more than they will remember a $100 bonus stripped away by gift taxes and personal expenses. It has also been shown that the ROI is substantially higher for promotional gifts as opposed to monetary gifts.
What strategies are most effective when trying to incentivize work behavior? Short-term strategies, like giving a reward when ten products have been sold within a month, can help promote good sales behavior, but this type of gamification can lead to employees holding back on reporting to cheat the system. Long-term strategies aimed at continuous improvement create performance drivers that are ongoing, rather than being limited to a shorter period.
Popularity Among Millennials
Millennials may live in an increasingly digital, immaterial world – but promotional items have never been more popular than among this generation. When attending an event, millennials say that 47% of their motivation for going is simply “getting free stuff”.3 With their clear inclination for free goods, you can use this to target swag towards those demographics. Follow their interests – power banks, USB chargers, and water bottles are all things that they will take with them in their increasingly mobile lives. They’re not going to be at home all day – make sure that your promotional items follow them around.
This can also be applied to millennial’s proclivity for stickers. It only takes a cursory glance around a college coffee shop to see laptops plastered with them. Not only are stickers a cheap and productive alternative, but they can easily be slipped into a package as a gift with purchase.
Rounding Out a Promotional Campaign
What’s better than buying a new car that you’ve fallen in love with? A free hat! Promotional goods are a great way to stick the landing with any campaign, and are a great way to increase customer loyalty and spur repeat business. Three out of four millennial buyers who get something unexpected shipped with their purchase have said that they would buy something again from that retailer.4 Providing millennials with freebies not only means repeat customers – you’re making loyal brand advocates, openly representing your company.
Choosing a printer is one of the most critical decisions you must make regarding your print project. To keep the cost of your project as low as possible, you might be tempted to choose the printer that quotes you the lowest price. Sure, the price is always important. However, when you select a printer on price alone, there is the ever-present danger that you may be making too big of a sacrifice.
There is a rule in the printing industry that you can have quality, you can have a fast turnaround, and you can have a low price. However, you must choose only two of those things. You can’t have all three. If you choose the lowest price, you will be giving up either quality or turnaround.
You’ve undoubtedly seen printers advertise a “special offer” of 500 business cards for $10. How can they do that? The price is low, and the turnaround is fast. However, the quality is limited. What they don’t tell you is that to qualify for the special offer you must choose from limited paper options. Bleed may not be available. And, because your cards are gang printed with other businesses, there is no option to color correct.
So, for that low price, you’re receiving an inferior quality print job. If that’s acceptable to you, then go with the low-price printer. However, the odds are that you’ll be disappointed in the long run.
What, then, is the most important thing to look for when choosing a printer? It’s best to start your search for a printer with the intention of building a relationship.
Build a Relationship with Your Printer
Begin by getting referrals from other businesses who are happy with their printer. Visit the printer’s website to learn as much as you can about them. Then, reach out to the printer either through their website or by phone and see how they respond to you. Pay close attention to how quickly they respond and how attentive they are to what you say. Notice whether they are trying to understand the nature of what you are trying to accomplish, or are they merely interested in getting just enough details to give you a quote.
What you want is a printer with whom you can build a relationship. You want the printer to be interested in your business and your project. Ideally, they should recognize that they have a vested interest in the outcome, so they take steps to understand and improve the print project that you are planning.
If practical, tour the printer’s facilities. This will give you the opportunity to see if they run a clean and well-organized shop. A tour will also allow you to meet the people at the printer who will be servicing your account. These are the people with whom you will be building a long-term relationship.
When you have a solid relationship with your printer, you’ll find that your print projects will be more successful. Keep in mind that things will occasionally go wrong on either your end or theirs. For instance, if someone on your end has made a mistake with a file, having a good relationship with your printer might make all the difference in whether that project gets printed on time. Perhaps the printer will be willing to step up and correct the mistake even though it is an inconvenience to them. Likewise, if they make a mistake, their willingness to correct the mistake in a way that is satisfactory to you will be based on the relationship you have with them.
Additionally, you want to know as much as you can about the printer. Start by assessing the printer’s expertise.
Assess the Printer’s Expertise
Find out everything you can about the printer. The objective here is for you to feel comfortable working with them. Read online reviews to see what their customers think of them. Don’t forget to ask them about turnaround time. Time is always of the essence, and it does you no good to receive print projects late, regardless of how well they are printed.
Also, ask how long they have been in business. You want to work with an established printer with a long track record. They should also be financially stable. Remember that all printers must buy ink and paper, buy new equipment, maintain existing equipment, and pay their employees. If the printer can’t handle all of these things, then they are in no position to handle your print projects.
When Choosing a Printer, Understand the Capabilities
Remember that it is crucial that your printer’s capabilities match your needs. Because it’s a good idea to only work with one print vendor, you want them to be able to take care of all your printing from pre-press to delivery. So, whether it’s signs, labels, banners, packaging, business cards, brochures, holiday greeting cards, or direct mail, make sure that the printer can handle it all.
Evaluate the Printer’s Quality
One of your top concerns should be that the printer you select must produce top-quality work. Since the quality of the print job ultimately reflects on your business, always, always look at samples of what the printer has printed. Don’t just pick up a random sample of something they’ve printed. Look at a representative sample. If you need signage printed, look at sample signs. If you need packages printed, look at samples of printed packages.
ImageMark Delivers on Price, Quality, and Turnaround
Here at ImageMark, we seek to apply our expertise, capabilities, and experience to deliver top-quality printing on time and at a reasonable price. That’s because we believe that you should sacrifice nothing when you choose us as your printer.
We not only have the ability to print jobs on one of our 18 printing devices, but we can also design projects, finish them, and distribute them via USPS or other methods. Moreover, because we care about your business, we work hard to make sure that your project gets completed in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Don’t choose your next printer on price alone. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive services. We’d love to discuss your next project with you.
Effective communication with employees is essential to the success of your business. Internal communication that addresses the concerns and interests of your employees engages them on a personal level. And that engagement results in a range of positive business outcomes.
What Is Employee Engagement
When it comes to your employees, there are three categories of engagement: engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged.
Engaged employees are highly involved and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. They drive performance and innovation. And they move the organization forward.
Not-engaged employees are psychologically detatched from their work and the workplace. Because their engagement needs are not being met, they’re putting in time, but not energy and passion.
Actively disengaged employees are more than just unhappy at work. They’re resentful that their needs aren’t being met and they act out their resentment. They represent an ongoing risk to the organization because they can undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.
It can be difficult to measure the engagement quality of your employees. Fortunately, we have generalized yardstick to rely on. According to a recent Gallop poll, 33 percent of workers are engaged in their jobs, 51 percent are not engaged, and 16 percent are actively disengaged. Gallup calls this an “engagement crisis.”
Your organization might be experiencing an engagement crisis without you even knowing it. Before looking at ways you can improve engagement, let’s discover the tangible value that an engaged workforce brings to the organization.
How Employee Engagement Improves Employee Satisfaction
Engaged workers are satisfied workers. They show up to work and they perform better at their jobs. Highly engaged business units realize a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 17 percent increase in productivity.
On the other hand, non-engaged and disengaged workers have a “grass is greener” mentality and are more likely to leave their job. They may be dissatisfied with their career growth opportunities, their pay and benefits, their managers and leadership, or the company’s culture. Whatever the reason for their dissatisfaction, they are more difficult to retain. When they leave, the organization must start the costly recruitment, hiring, and onboarding process all over again.
How Employee Engagement Improves Compliance
Engaged workers are safer workers. That’s because they are more mindful of their surroundings. They are aware of safety notices and procedures. And they are diligent about keeping their coworkers protected. In fact, highly engaged business units realize a 70 percent decrease in employee safety incidents and a 58 percent decrease in patient safety incidents.
Non-engaged and disengaged workers make more mistakes because they are less focused on performing well at their roles. This makes them a liability.
How Employee Engagement Improves Profitability
Greater job satisfaction, higher attendance, improved safety compliance, and other positives that flow from having engaged employees fuel increased profits. When taken together, the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.
Now, let’s take a look at what methods of communicating with employees will bring results like the ones we’ve discussed to your organization.
Effective Channels of Communication
Organizations have more success with engagement when they treat employees as stakeholders in the future of their jobs and the future of the organization. That’s because the modern workforce expects their work environment to be engaging. Today, effective internal communication isn’t an option, it’s an urgent need.
One type of communication is getting required information into the hands of your employees in a timely manner. At a minimum, paychecks with properly completed paystubs must be delivered on time every time. Similarly, employees expect their annual W2 forms to be delivered on or before the January 31st deadline. Failure to handle these basic communications will result in extremely high levels of frustration and will cause employees to disengage.
Another type of communication involves proactively sharing information that directly serves the needs of the employee. A good example is the quality of communication that takes place surrounding the benefits open enrollment period.
One organization might present their employees with enrollment information and materials at the last minute. Another organization may take a more compassionate approach to the process. For instance, management may take the time to hold meetings far in advance of deadlines to familiarize employees with the process, particularly if things have changed from the previous year. Management may also ask for feedback before selecting an insurance provider. These behaviors communicate to employees that management cares about their health and wellbeing.
Effective communication doesn’t require meetings. You can get important messages across using printed materials. A traditional, and still useful, channel of communication is the office newsletter. Frequent and open communication about the status of the business—both positive and negative—and the role that employees play in the success of the business serves to stimulate engagement.
Then there are channels of communication that relate to compliance. For instance, OSHA signs placed in proper locations help remind employees about important safety concerns and their rights as employees.
Yet another channel of communication that nurtures engagement is holiday greeting cards. Sending a specially personalized card to the family of an employee tells that family that you care about them and fosters a sense of community. That will likely motivate them to provide extra support for the family member that works for your organization.
And, of course, there are channels of communication that are meant to directly motivate employees. Whether it is a series of motivational posters or a huge thermometer poster that shows how close the organization is to reaching a goal, these communications support teamwork.
ImageMark Is Your Employee Communications Partner
High-performing organizations make employee communications a priority. They know that an engaged workforce contributes to a more successful organization. However, because your goal is to create a culture of engagement, improving your internal communication takes work and commitment.
ImageMark is ready to play a valuable role in your employee engagement strategy. Our printed materials help present your messages to your employees in ways that are as appealing as they are practical. Contact us today to request a meeting to discuss your next project, schedule a demo, or request a quote.
ImageMark President Walter Payne and Executive Vice President Karen Kaufman (front, center) with members of the ImageMark team and Chamber representatives (front row, from left) Montcross Area President Ted Hall and Board Chair Melia Lyerly of Lyerly Agency and Gaston Regional President and CEO Jeff Sandford.
ImageMark Business Services went all out for the Montcross Area and Gaston Regional Chambers of Commerce when the company hosted a networking reception at its west Gastonia facility, and Chamber members flocked to the event in huge numbers. They were rewarded with tours of the immaculate 130,000-square-foot digital printing facility, mounds of delicious Mexican food, cold beverages and warm conversations among old friends and new business contacts.
It was an evening to remember as members of the two Chambers came together for the event called “Network After Work” at the Montcross Area Chamber and “Business After Hours” at the Gaston Regional Chamber.
ImageMark President Walter Payne welcomed the large crowd and spoke briefly about the company he purchased in 1996 as a small traditional print shop and renamed ImageMark. Through innovation and acquisitions, the company has grown rapidly and has been selected by Kodak as a demonstration site to show customers from around the world its state-of-the-art digital printing technology in a real-life working environment.
ImageMark Business Services Inc. executives has announced the acquisition of Hickory, NC-based Catawba Direct Marketing Solutions. Effective Aug. 31, 2015, ImageMark’s portfolio of solutions will expand with new technologies and direct mail expertise.
ImageMark is a customized content marketing and print company that creates impactful solutions for clients in various industries including health care, automotive aftermarket and higher education. The near century-old company specializes in store fronts, fulfillment, printing services, direct mail and web services.
“This acquisition was a business decision that was the right move for both companies,” said ImageMark President Walter Payne. “The mailing technology and solutions that ImageMark will be gaining from Catawba Direct Marketing Solutions will allow us to expand our offerings to clients and continue to meet and exceed their needs.”
Catawba Direct Marketing Solutions has been in business for more than 25 years providing print, mail and digital services to its clients.
“Having worked with Walter Payne of ImageMark for many years, I knew he and his company were the right fit when considering who we would sell to,” said L.F. Miller, president of Catawba Direct Marketing Solutions. “I am confident that the ImageMark team will provide impeccable service and solutions with a trusted team of professionals.”
With this acquisition, ImageMark will add 10 jobs to its existing 62-person staff, effective immediately, and transition all services to its Gastonia location. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
GASTONIA, N.C. (March 11, 2014) – ImageMark Business Services Inc. executives announced Tuesday, March 11 the 90-year old company has been awarded a three-year contract with the North Carolina-based minor league baseball team, the Charlotte Knights. ImageMark will produce a portion of the team’s printed materials and help enhance the fan experience, including executing a unique fan giveaway to commemorate opening day.
Charlotte Knights printed items including season tickets, game-day programs, schedules and sponsorship banners will be produced by ImageMark’s veteran team of experts utilizing the company’s digital, offset and wide format printing technologies.
“Partnering with the Charlotte Knights is an exciting venture for ImageMark,” said Walter Payne, ImageMark president. “Not only will we be helping the team kick off its inaugural season in the new BB&T Ballpark, we have the opportunity to provide the team with exciting ideas and opportunities to further enhance the fan experience.”
ImageMark earned the contract through a competitive bid process with more than 15 vendors. After sharing pricing details, a plant tour and the ability to bring new ideas to the table; a unanimous decision to engage ImageMark was made.
“ImageMark’s creativity, innovation, and knowledge of the market will certainly enhance the fan experience at BB&T Ballpark,” said Chris Semmens, Charlotte Knights Vice President of Sales. “Everyone will see their superior print work first hand with quality items like the game day programs, pocket schedules, posters, and team photos.”
The Charlotte Knights are the Triple-A affiliate for the Chicago White Sox. The team’s home opener in the brand new BB&T Ballpark in uptown Charlotte takes place on Friday, April 11 against the Norfolk Tides.
About ImageMark Business Services Inc.
The 90-year-old company offers customized content marketing and print-related services to companies committed to improving return on investment in marketing initiatives. ImageMark has built a reputation for being the Southeast’s premier web-based printing partner to meet demanding marketing needs through its technological capabilities. ImageMark serves national and international corporations. For more information,
ImageMark Business Services Inc. is moving to larger quarters in Gaston County and plans to add 10 employees over the next year as the company grows.
The printing company is relocating to Gastonia from Lowell and expects to be in a renovated 130,000-square-foot building by early August. The company gains about 50,000 square feet in the move, says Walter Payne, ImageMark president.
The new plant will be housed in the former Radici Spandex building at 3145 Northwest Blvd. in Gastonia. The current location contains 77,600 square feet and is at 141 Robins St. in Lowell. The two locations are eight miles apart.
ImageMark has 67 full-time employees and 10 part-timers.
Karen Kaufman, ImageMark executive vice president, says the company is adding technology and convincing customers to bring business back to the United States.
“We’re looking for some contractual work from companies that would bring printing back from overseas,” she says. Payne says one contract would bring a contract worth more than $1 million to ImageMark from China.
Those successes are convincing the company to add employees, Payne says.
ImageMark primarily serves businesses with printing, thermography and fulfillment services. It counts several Fortune 500 corporations among its customers.