The next piece of the puzzle

B2B 2018

If you recall my post from last week, you’ll know that we’re exhibiting at the B2B Exhibition at Carrow Road in October.

We’ve got a lot of work to do to get ready for the expo, and I realised that it might actually be quite useful to share the process we go through to prepare for an exhibition – all with the aim of helping YOU to exhibit more successfully.

If you missed last week’s email, we focused on outlining your exhibition objectives, so if you want to read that one, you can click HERE and read it now.

This week, I wanted to talk about the next piece of the puzzle: the stand type.

Before you decide the composition of your stand, it’s important to understand exactly how much space you’ve got – it’s no good deciding on a stand when you simply don’t have the space for it.

Once you’ve worked out the space, it’s all about maximising it.

Are you going for a simple roller banner either side of a table, or perhaps a full on pop-up or fabric display? Does your display include any screens or tablets that need to be incorporated into the stand? Have you considered how you’re going to display your leaflets and brochures – do you have a literature stand? – do you need to source one?

Obviously the more branding you’ve got on display, the more eye-catching your stand will be, but at the same time, there is such a thing as “too much”.

I always find it useful to sketch out what the stand will look like – you can’t create it in all its splendour, but drawing it out allows you to see whether it’ll look too crowded or cluttered.

Remember, if you’ve gone for a specific theme, then it’s vital that that theme runs through the whole stand – it’s no good having elements that just don’t fit with each other, as that can actually take away from your brand.

If you’re stuck on which type of banner stand to get, or the composition of your stand, just send me an email to paul@expertprintmanagement.co.uk and we can talk it through.

The countdown begins

B2B 2018

You might be wondering what I mean by countdown.

But don’t worry, I’m not going to suddenly start spouting about Ch*****as – you’ll get enough of that when you start seeing mince pieces in Sainsburys in the next three weeks.

Instead, I’m talking about an entirely different, and much more personal countdown, which is the five-week countdown to the B2B Exhibition at Carrow Road on October 11th.

We’re exhibiting this year, and I’m really looking forward to it, but I’ve got A LOT to get done first.

You see, having done a fair few exhibitions and events over the years, and assisted numerous clients with their preparation, I know how crucial it is to prepare properly.

It’s a cliché, but when it comes to exhibitions and events, failing to prepare truly is preparing to fail.

And – on October 11th – I don’t want to fail.

Which means I need to put the prep time in.

And as I sat down with a blank piece of paper to start planning what we were going to do for the expo, I had a realisation that it might actually be pretty useful for me to share some of my thinking with you.

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do be doing over the next few weeks – as we go through our preparation, I’ll be sharing the process we’re going through and why – I hope you’ll find it useful for your own exhibition efforts.

And first up, I want to talk about the first thing you put on your blank piece of paper, and really, it’s about asking two fundamental questions:

Why are we doing this exhibition?

What are we trying to achieve?

Are you looking to sell directly from the stand? Do you want to talk to a handful of people? Or are you looking to build your list?

The answers to those questions will inform everything else you do, but the reason so many businesses get it wrong is that there’s simply not enough clarity around their overall strategy.

If you’re not sure what your strategy should be, just give me a shout and we can chat it through, and stay tuned for next week’s article!

By the way, I actually wrote a piece a while back on how to avoid wasting thousands of pounds at exhibitions.  If you fancy a read, click HERE.

Off the water and all at sea

Storm 250

As I sat down on my desk on the Tuesday of this week, I had a feeling that brought me back to my childhood.

That ‘back to school’ feeling.

I’ve had the most fabulous summer, with more time on the water than I can remember for a while, but when I returned to the office after the bank holiday weekend, it definitely felt like summer was nearly over.

If you remember that feeling of going back to school in September, you’ll have half an idea of what my first half an hour back in the office was like.

As a kid, you’ve spent six weeks playing outside, and when you try to hold a pencil again, you can’t even write within the lines.

Thankfully it wasn’t quite that bad, but I certainly had that feeling of feeling a little bit ‘at sea’ and being a little out of practice and a little unsure about what I should start with first.

Thankfully after a morning of slight confusion, I’m back on it, and I spent an hour or so yesterday afternoon planning out my marketing campaigns for the rest of the year.

September is a fabulous time to hit the ground running and ensure that the rest of the year is as fruitful and successful as possible, but it’s only possible to do that when you do what I did: unfog the muddled head and get absolute clarity on the activity you need to do to reach your goals.

So: what offline marketing are you going to be doing in between now and Christmas, and how can we help you to get it done, getting you more leads and customers in the process?

If you’d like to chat some ideas through, give us a call on 01603 334390

No rest for the wicked

As you know, I was busy with Wroxham Week last week, but my busyness has shown zero signs of abating now that’s all out of the way.

In addition to the full-time work that is Expert Print Management, Karen and I are also in the process of moving house (fingers crossed we’ll have completed by the time you read this).

And it’s not a simple move. (I’m starting to realise that they barely ever are.)

The house we’re buying needs quite a bit of work before we’re even able to move into it, which means that I feel i’m constantly on the phone.

Either it’s the solicitor, wanting a new form or something or other.

Or it’s the agent, giving me updates on where the seller’s at.

Or it’s the contractors, asking for dates and times, confirming costs and a whole bunch of other stuff.

This moving seems like a full-time job in itself, and managing every single element is as tiring as it is stressful.

In short, it’s rather like managing your own print.

Liaising with the designers, talking to printers, getting quotes and specifications, dealing with delays, complaining when things don’t go right, and starting the whole process again when you decide you can’t rely on your printer anymore, buying and managing your own print can be pretty painful.

And it’s that exact pain that we remove, because we do the WHOLE thing for you.

Rather than talking to every man and his dog about your project, you just drop us an email or give us a call and we sort it out for you – working with you to achieve your deadlines.

You get the gist: we exist to take ALL the stress out of your print buying process.

Now, if only something like that existed for house moves and renovation…

No handbook

I’ve been pretty preoccupied this last week, which is why I’ve only just posted this blog.

I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs though – I’ve been super busy with Wroxham Week – a fantastic sailing event organised by Norfolk Broads Yacht Club at Wroxham Broad.

It’s been all go, and we’ve had a fabulous time.

But it hasn’t been super easy – there’s been lots of learning on the fly.

You see, I’ve just recently been asked to stand-in as Rear Commodore of the club, and I’ll be honest, that’s pushed me way out of my comfort zone. But one week on, with the support of a great bunch of people, I’m beginning to feel a lot more comfortable about things.

And that’s my little point for today really: sometimes we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, there’s no step-by-step guide, no ABC to follow, no handbook.

A bit like being a business owner.

It’s just you and your instinct.

Sure, we can prepare, and yes, we should ensure that our preparation is adequate.

But with most things in life, you truly learn by doing.

You’ll make mistakes, you’ll get things wrong, but you’ll learn from it all; the good and the bad.

So many businesses are paralysed into inactivity by fear, but that paralysis won’t get you from A to B quickly.

I encourage you, wherever you’re at in your business: just give it a go.

Even if it goes wrong, even if a campaign flops, you’ll learn something from it, and be better next time.

By the way. If you’re ever in the area and would like to find out more about Norfolk Broads Yacht Club, just drop me an email and I’ll happily show you around!

Boardrooms and flip flops

Well, this heatwave just keeps going on and on, doesn’t it?

Just to be clear, I’m definitely not complaining!

When it’s this hot though, business does change a little bit.

Everyone’s much happier, and meetings tend to get conducted in shorts and flip flops rather than starched shirts and ties.

And after getting over the shock of seeing your client in a pair of shorts, you quickly get used to it – it becomes normal.

Informality has gradually been drifting out of the business world for a while now anyway, with the tie no longer the staple it once was, but the interesting thing is that the move to informality hasn’t affected the way a lot of businesses market themselves.

Lots of businesses still project a stuffy, corporate image, using ‘proper’ language and starting emails with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.

But when you look at the truly innovative companies – Google and Apple for example – what’s clear is that they’ve deliberately done things differently.

They’re cheeky and informal in the way they communicate with their customers and prospects, and the result is that their audience feels closer to them as a result.

Whatever you’re selling, it’s worth remembering that people generally don’t live their entire lives in corporate formality – they’ve got kids and houses and pets and hopes and dreams, and if you can use your marketing to connect with them on that level, you’ve got more chance of building a strong relationship that benefits you both.

So, next time you’re putting together a piece of marketing, remember the summer of shorts and flip flops and lose some formality.

No longer prohibitive

No longer prohibitive

We were doing some clearing out at home the other day, when Karen came across this:

No longer prohibitive

The quote stems from the days when she was working for a large marketing agency in Norwich – one of their clients needed to produce some leaflets, so she reached out to one of the established printers of the time and asked for a price.

And as you can hopefully see, 5,000 leaflets came out at £405.

Anyway, when Karen passed me the quote the other day, I made that whistling noise that people make when something is really expensive, like they can’t quite imagine how their credit card is going to cope with a purchase.

You see, 31 years later, I’d be able to fulfil that exact same job for around £255.

That’s 37% cheaper, 31 years later.

Now, I won’t get into the pricing policy of Essex Telegraph Press in Colchester, but what I will say is that this shows that print is no longer prohibitive.

For several years, many businesses viewed print as a luxury, which they couldn’t afford.

But thanks to technology, print has become far more affordable, which means your next direct mail campaign or leafleting initiative gives you much more chance of delivering a return on investment.

Is it perhaps a good time for you to reconsider print as part of your marketing mix?

Oh – and just to be clear, I don’t think the guys at the Essex Telegraph Press were greedy, I promise – printing in 1987 was just far more expensive!

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.

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!