Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Could You Use 1,000 Square Feet of More Room?

As a provider of a comprehensive list of products and services, we get to work with a variety of different local and national businesses. In a throw-back to the days of trapper keepers and lockers, we’ve included a “case study” of our work with a graduate university that gives perspective on the ways your company could benefit from electronic document storage.
The Problem:
A few years back, the Office of Business Affairs for a highly regarded medical graduate school contacted us with a problem: 30 years’ worth of records were piling up – employee files, financial documents, student records filled four large rooms with 80 filing cabinets. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the office staff to locate and retrieve files, never mind the severe space shortage the document storage was causing! Their main concern was the distinct possibility that important, and often confidential, files could be misplaced or lost.
The Solution:
With over 2.5 million sheets of paper needing to be digitized, the Office of Business Affairs turned to Professional Systems, USA Inc. We imaged and safely discarded a majority of their paper files, the department reclaimed over 1,000 square feet of space, which conservatively translates to $20,000 per year worth of office space that was able to be put to more productive use.
How did we do it?
Digitized records are stored on our secure and password-protected servers using the sophisticated K-Docs document management software. The servers are held in a secured site with redundant power generators and 24 hour physical security. Scanning allowed the university to eliminate vulnerability to disaster, possible tampering of records, and unauthorized access to confidential information.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Seven Ways Your Company Can Use QR Codes

QR codes are gaining popularity quickly; according to a recent study by Baltimore advertising agency MGH, about 72% of smart phone users say they would be likely to recall an advertisement that contained a QR code.

A variety of businesses are taking advantage of this edgy technology… we’ve seen QR codes on Macy’s television commercials, Disney’s billboards, and a university’s admissions materials, just to name a few. We recently came across a unique example of QR usage in the healthcare industry. Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro, TN launched a campaign with QR codes in the corner of their print advertisements. The code invited people to “experience” the hospitals new facilities and led them to a video of the new TV campaign. See the ad for yourself here.

We brainstormed a list of some other specific ways QR codes can be used in your industry:

1.       Place QR codes at different locations in the building that guide visitors around the campus with a web-based map.
2.       Print codes on laminated lobby cards and link them to an online customer satisfaction survey.
3.       Host redirected URL’s posted on different publication ads to measure which ads get the highest response rates.
4.       Print codes on brochures with links to “how to” videos or instructions.
5.       Put QR codes on “dated” pieces so customers can stay up-to-date about info that changes frequently.
6.       Include QR codes on your business cards and link them to your LinkedIn account, or your company’s “about us” website page.
7.       Use a personalized QR code, or a PURL, to track a fundraising mailing or survey responses.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Does Your Company Need @OneOfThese ?

The vast amount of social media platforms that exist today, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, means that you can connect with your customers more often and quicker than ever before. It seems like businesses from barber shops to pharmaceutical companies have some kind of online presence beyond the traditional website. Here are some things to keep in mind when you consider jumping on the social bandwagon:
Do you have enough to update about? The quickest way to lose Twitter followers is to update them on today’s lunch choice and the fact that your electrician was late to your appointment this morning. But there are also great ways to connect with your followers – check out how these companies are taking advantage of Twitter and these companies are using Facebook… and seeing results!
Do you have time to maintain your online presence? On the flip side, once you gain an audience, whether it be a group of end-users or other people in your industry, be sure to provide them with somewhat consistent updates. A balance of promotional pieces and resource posts will keep them interested.
How far is too far? In 2009, a Los Angeles woman started receiving a string of messages via her MySpace from a man she did not know, named Sebastian Bowler, who said he was from England and was coming to her home to hide from the police. Bowler continued sending pictures of himself travelling across the country, getting closer and closer to LA. The woman finally reported the incident to the police, only to find out that “Bowler” was actually… Toyota Motors! Toyota launched a marketing plan that was supposed to mimic a popular prank TV show, and was intended to make customers think an English bandit was travelling to their houses, to start buzz about a new car model. The woman sued Toyota, and needless to say, the campaign does not exist anymore. We know you wouldn’t go this far, but it sure makes a good story!
We want to hear from you! Do you think all companies need to use social media? What’re some of the best/worst ways you’ve seen?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Annual Print Solutions Conference and Expo

We returned to our desks yesterday after attending the PSDA 2012 Print Solutions Conference & Expo in Baltimore, where attendees visited with exhibitors in nearly 200 booths and took advantage of compelling education and training sessions when off the expo floor. This three-day event is the only national trade show focused on the distributor channel for print, marketing and business communications.
We return to work energized and focused.  We learned a lot at this year’s conference.  Here are just a few of the things that we are excited about:

  • Multi-touch, cross-media campaigns that marry print, web, and mobile technologies.
  • Numerous methods for increasing and tracking response rates for direct mail.
  • Beautiful new printing processes that allow for the creation of amazing “dimensional” pieces.  Brilliantly printed postcards, business cards, posters, flyers, and catalogs that utilize new print processes that “wow”!
  • New technologies, products, and processes that are increasingly environmentally friendly.
  • Good (and not-so-good) uses of QR codes.
  • Turnkey solutions for busy marketing professionals.
  • Very affordable logo redesign packages.
  • Web-to-print technologies that continue to make order fulfillment more efficient, easy, and cost-effective.
  • A good marketing campaign requires being smarter before ink ever hits paper and collecting data after.
  • Best quote from the conference:  the best tool that each of us has is our ears!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Space is Shrinking! Why Office Space Planning is More Important Than Ever.

According to the New York Times, the average amount of space per employee nationwide has dropped from 400 square feet in 1985 to 250 square feet in 2011 … now, more than ever, it’s important that the office space you do have works well for your employees and is put to good use! We’ve put together a list of some questions you can ask yourself to gauge whether your space is being used to its full potential.

1.       Does your space look like a home office straight out of the 1970’s? As we discussed in our previous blog post, styles change throughout the years, and it’s important to keep up! An outdated furniture set can give customers the wrong impression that your company is antiquated as well. Waiting room furniture no longer needs to be drab and uncomfortable… there are hundreds of understated, professional looks to choose from.
2.       Are you using all space possible? Even if you have the perfect furniture, space will be wasted if it’s not organized properly. Find a furniture consultant that has dealt with plenty of irregular spaces and can find a solution for that odd-shaped nook or small entrance area.
3.       Can your employees work comfortably? There are many ways that ergonomics can go wrong because of improper office furniture… desks at the wrong height, rigid chairs, a lack of back support and many other offenses can make your employees uncomfortable and less productive. This doesn’t need to be the case! Extensive studies have been performed to design furniture that isn’t a “pain in the back”.
4.       What’s taking up more room… paper or people? Advanced storage solutions like rotating storage shelves or document scanning means that rooms full of files no longer necessary, allowing you to dedicate space to employee work stations instead of stacks of files.

Whether you need a few new pieces of furniture or you’re looking to revamp your office space, there are plenty of options to fit your needs. We can help you find the right balance of fashion and functionality.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What does "going green" really mean for business?

It seems like every day there are more and more environmentally sustainable choices available to us… from the introduction of the electric car to the wide usage of tumblers instead of disposable water bottles, we can see that the green movement isn’t slowing down anytime soon. But are these earth-friendly efforts applicable to everyday business? Can your business make small changes to lessen your impact on the earth without compromising your products or service to your customers?
We explored a few ways that local companies are tweaking their day-to-day habits to get involved in “going green.”
Use Vegetable or Soy-based inks
The production of some traditional petroleum-based inks can create harmful agricultural residue and toxic emissions. The next time you need to print your company letterhead, a banner promoting that new product, or any other printing job, ask for vegetable or soy-based inks. These inks have low levels of VOC (volatile organic compounds) which helps reduce emissions and air pollution. Newspapers often use soy ink, because it provides a sharper and brighter image.
Print on Recycled Paper
There are a wide variety of eco-friendly paper options available to you. For example, we offer 100% post consumer recycled paper, and paper that uses 100% chlorine free manufacturing processes. On some projects, it’s even possible to use materials derived from bamboo or bamboo fibers! You can reduce the amount of waste that’s created during printing by working with experts to make certain that quantities are “right-sized.”
Pay Attention to Affiliations
Many products boast labels stating that they’re “green,” “environmentally friendly,” “eco-sustainable,” or a variety of other hot-button phrases… how do you know if what you’re paying for is actually making a difference? Pay attention to certifications from nationally-recognized organizations. For example, many of Professional Systems USA’s manufacturing partners are affiliated with Forest Stewardship Council, EPA’s SmartWay, renewable energy, and Sustainable Forest Initiatives. Most of your projects, including promotional items, logo-wear, brochures, folders, postcards, flyers, and envelopes can be produced only in plants that are compliant in these programs – just ask us to “print green”!
What small (or big!) actions is your company taking to protect the environment in your day-to-day business? We’d love to hear from you… comment below!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

United States Postal Service's Every Door Direct Mail® Program Makes it Easy to Reach Local Customers

Direct mail is proven to be effective. It cuts through the white noise of online or email advertisements, and a tangible piece creates a more personal, emotional connection to your audience. The United States Postal Service has introduced a new program that is making it easier to reach more potential customers in your area! It’s called Every Door Direct Mail®, or EDDM, and boasts all the great aspects of direct mail and more…
*Reduced postage costs – EDDM is as low as 14.5 cents per postcard, which is nearly half of regular postage costs
*You’ll reach every household and business within your exact specifications
*You don’t have to buy mailing lists or postage permits
How Every Door Direct Mail® works for you:
1.       Tell us where you want your postcards delivered… you can choose to reach an audience within a certain radius of your business or in specific zip codes. Select residential or business locations… or both! Click here for a demo of the online tool that’ll help you decide. We’ll take it from there!
2.       Our graphic design team will work with you to create the perfect postcard for your promotion
3.       We will print and package your postcards according to USPS specifications
4.       We will drop your postcards off at the correct Post Office, and they’ll be on their way

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Personalize Messaging with Variable Print

Hey, you! When’s the last time a generic greeting caught your attention more than hearing your own name? We can’t think of one either. Whether you’re walking down the street or planning a marketing campaign – people like personalization.
Why not tailor your communication techniques so they’re unique for each of your customers? Variable printing is more effective at prompting your reader to take action and can be printed on coupons, brochures, direct mail and more! Instead of sending out 1,000 identical mailings to your customer contact list, (we’ve heard it called “spraying and praying,”) send one mailing inviting James or Jennifer by name to check out your new inventory, or ask a customer if they need your services in their home at 14 Front Street.
You can customize prints with a variety of different things, but the most common ones businesses request are customers’ names, purchase history, demographics, and geography. You could even include a customized map that shows your customer exactly how to get to your business from their home - these direct mail pieces have been shown to generate a 40% higher response. Here are some examples of variable printing pieces:

Another way to create a customized experience for your customer is to include a pURL, or a personalized page that’s a part of your website. pURLS have some of the same fun, interactive elementthat we talked about with QR Codes in an earlier blog post. Directing a respondent to a pURL makes it possible to track responses, giving you a way to measure the response rate and success of a mailing.
There are many ways variable printing and/or a personalized URL can be integrated into your next marketing campaign. Contact us today for ideas on how to take your campaign to the next level.
We’d love to hear from you - what’s the most creative personalized piece you’ve seen a company use? Comment below!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tips for your Printed Pieces

We’ve been in the business for over 25 years, so we’ve been able to see what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to graphic design. Here are some tips to make it easier for you to end up with a printed piece you love:
1.       Pay attention to resolution.
If you’re a graphic designer, you know that PPI means image resolution that you see on a computer monitor, and DPI is resolution that shows up when you print something. So what does it mean for the rest of us?

Make sure any images you use in printed pieces are at least 300 DPI (if you pull an image off of Google, for example, it could have a DPI as low as 72… which won’t show up looking sharp).

You can check the DPI of an image by right-clicking on an online image file > select “Properties” > click the “Summary” tab > click “Advanced Properties” > check out the “Horizontal Resolution” and “Vertical Resolution,” which will tell you the DPI.
 A low resolution can make even a great picture seem dull.

2.       Optimize your file format.
If you want to scan an image, save it as a TIF (.tif) or EPS (.eps). File formats like GIF or JPG can make your image look blurry and off-color.

3.       Convert to CMYK.
Computer monitors use RGB (Red, Green, Blue), while printers use CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). So, your piece will look a little different printed than it did on the screen. Make sure to order a hard copy proof if matching colors is absolutely critical. Always convert images to CMYK using programs like PhotoShop or Corel PhotoPaint for printing.

4.       Work with a Graphic Designer.
To make sure you’re getting the highest quality and best price, bring your work to a graphic designer, who can produce creative work that meets all the requirements we described above. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Make an Attractive, Affordable Event T-Shirt

Spring is just around the corner, which means warm weather,
blooming flowers…and company t-shirts!

This time every year, we get a huge wave of requests to make logo t-shirts and other apparel items for events such as benefit walks. This process often includes securing sponsorships, and including those companies’ logos on your customized items. We’ve put together a list of quick tips to help you make ordering those shirts just a little easier:
  1. Select a blank shirt that you would like to decorate. Decide between long sleeves or short sleeves, and then pick a color.
  2. Get an idea of what quantity you'd like to order.
  3. Decide on your imprint:  will you have design on the front only? Back only? Both front and back?  How large do you want the imprint be?
  4. Ask your sponsors to send their logos:
    1. In high-resolution – a resolution of at least 300 DPI will allow the image to look crisp on screen printed items
    2. Using spot color – Spot colors are a specific custom ink color, and they need to be included in the original logo artwork.
    3. In an EPS or PDF file type – These types of file formats are vector, which means the image will look very crisp on the finished product.
  5. Decide on screen print or embroidery: Generally speaking, event shirts, especially those with sponsors listed on the back, are screen printed.  Embroidery works well for decorating a shirt with one or two logos, but if your message needs to be fairly large in size, screen print will be the most attractive and cost-effective way to decorate.
Get someone else’s opinion, and rely on your supplier for help! If you don’t have the time to create a design yourself, just send us the elements you want on your item and any vision you have, and we can take it from there. Our graphic design team can create a great design, and our product specialists can help you find shirts, banners, or various other promotional items to fit any event or budget.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Super Bowl Commercial Success

This past Sunday, Go Daddy, the domain registrar company known just as well for its suggestive celebrity spokeswomen as its innovative services, went down in history as the first to use a QR code in a Super Bowl commercial. In our last blog post, we talked about the many opportunities made possible by using QR codes to reach the 111.3 million captive viewers that tuned into the big game… so, did this “mobile marketing experiment” live up to the hype?

On one hand, yes. Go Daddy’s campaign saw tremendous success… on-screen QR codes led to videos featuring their spokesmodels and coupons for one of their services, created a buzz about the company, and set an all-time sales record for the mobile site during the game. See the whole video here.

On the other hand, some QR codes used by advertisers in the Super Bowl's official game program left consumers unimpressed.  While users did scan the codes, many complained that they were led to boring and impersonalized online content that wasn’t optimized for viewing on a mobile phone.

The take-away from this “experiment” is that misusing a QR code is like spending all of your time creating fancy invitations for an exclusive party, but forgetting to book a venue for the big day. When your customers show up to something you invited them to, shouldn’t you make their stay worthwhile?

To capture the power of QR codes like Go Daddy did, focus on how you can personalize content or collect results about the customers’ preference to tailor your material to them next time. pURLS and customer surveys give your customer another reason to care what’s on the other end of the QR code.

We want to hear from you! What were your thoughts about QR code usage in the Super Bowl this year?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When QR Codes and Quarterbacks Collide

In less than a week, the 46th annual Super Bowl will kick off in Indianapolis, Indiana. Whether you’re a Giants or a Patriots fan, or just watching for the halftime show, almost everyone can agree that the Super Bowl commercials have become almost as big a phenomenon as the sport itself. This year, there’s something new on the scene – QR codes. Don’t be surprised when a black and white code shows up on your screen, and you’re prompted to scan it with your smart phone. These codes can lead to mobile phone-specific website content, videos, or even contests.

But say you don’t have $3.5 million to spend on 30 seconds of air time (yes, that’s the average Super Bowl commercial price!) to reach the 40% of wireless users who currently own a smart phone… can you still take advantage of QR codes? Absolutely! QR codes are an interesting way to drive traffic to the web, and they are easily added to any printed piece, from business cards to billboards to flyers. We’ve seen it from many companies, including Macy’s, HBO, and Toyota. Your company, no matter its size, can be next. 

Interested? Check out our previous blog post, which offers tips on how to use QR codes to capture and interact with your audience in a whole new way. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Can a block of squiggly lines really be the next big thing in marketing?

Companies often spend significant time and effort creating websites chock-full with great information and tools, then come to us with the question:  how do I actually direct people to my website?
Quick Response codes may be the answer! QR codes are 2-D barcodes that your customers can scan with an application on their smart phones to gain instant access to any address on the web, whether it’s your website, online coupons, instructional videos, or up-to-date event information. Using QR codes in an effective, cutting-edge way for your business to reach and interact with more customers than ever before!
While QR codes have been around the 1990’s, the popularity of smart phones brought a new wave of interest. According to research firm 3GVision, barcode usage in North America expanded 42.1% in Q3 of 2011 and daily scans come from 141 different countries around the world.
How can you use QR codes in an effective, cutting-edge way to reach and interact with more customers than ever before? Here are some examples of successful integration of QR codes in marketing campaigns:

Disney  created a series of print ads in Japan that show the fan-favorite characters with QR codes embedded in their faces. When people scan the QR codes, they’re directed to Disney Channel’s mobile-phone friendly website.

The University of Guelph was one of the first to use QR codes in their admissions materials. By scanning the code, prospective students were directed to videos of current students talking about classes and activities they enjoyed at the University.
As you can see, QR codes allow you to integrate print with web, and can be used  in a variety of print and online marketing materials like business cards, brochures, direct mail, trade show displays, patient or client surveys, email blasts, and much more! Contact us today to see how QR codes could give your company a fun, interactive edge.

Copyright 2011, Professional Systems USA2355 West Hanford Rd., Burlington, NC 27215Phone336.570.3813Fax336.570.2426

Home | About Us | Printing | Marketing Services | Promotional Products | Document Management | Electronic Document Management
Storage and Filing Systems | Office Space Planning | Resources | Case Studies | Contact Us | Sitemap

Web Design by BEM Interactive