USA Print Broker, Inc.

Archive for May 2011

My mother warned me about shell games. After all, shell games are run by con artists who gamble on the fact that the hand is often quicker than the eye. At USA Print Broker, Inc, we have a totally different kind of shell game going. There’s no gamble involved in this game. It’s as close as you can get to a sure thing in the print world!

Let me explain. In our Louisville headquarters, we have about 3000 square feet of warehouse space with 24’ ceilings. Why so much? It is there to hold printed shells and other fulfillment items for our customers. Shells are pieces that are partially printed with a logo or special icon that never changes on a customer’s printed materials. Every business card has that logo, no matter whose specific information is included. Every line card has that icon, no matter which product is being highlighted.

A lot of customers want something flashy on their business cards like foil stamping. This is a costly process for a simple business card due to the die creation and dual production process (die stamping then printing.) It’s an option that many companies pass up because the cost for short runs is cost prohibitive.

We can help deliver that type of image at a fraction of the normal cost by printing and storing shells for you. Instead of ordering three lots of business cards you need now, we print up 50,000 shells with just your logo and other standard information. We keep these in our warehouse and as you need business cards we print the personal information as ship your order out quickly.

You save money and have great business cards, flyers, stationery, line cards, handbooks and manuals that will be sure to impress the competition. There’s no end to the number of ways the “shell game” can save you money!

What is the best networking tool for your company? If you attend networking events, you are familiar with the term “elevator speech.” It’s a 30-60 second commercial for your company that you can drag out at a moment’s notice. It covers all the bases: who you are, what you do, why you do it and what makes you the best choice for any customer. The elevator speech is an important thing to have in your proverbial hip pocket. It’s vital when you are face-to-face with a potential client who needs to get the big picture in record time.

That said, there is a networking tool that often goes unnoticed…and is often underplayed. Once your elevator speech is done (and is followed by 50 other elevator speeches at a networking event), what keeps you top of mind with the people you’ve just met? I wish my memory was finely tuned enough to remember all of the information just thrown at me after one of those sessions, but the truth is that I depend a great deal on the little things that get handed out along with the elevator speech.

For me, the all-time #1 networking tool is the 3.5” x 2” piece of card stock we call a BUSINESS CARD!

I have to admit that a good business card can sometimes beat out a great elevator speech, simply because it’s something I take with me and have available when I need a particular kind of service.

Now, don’t get me wrong…a bad business card can also be just as effective – in the other direction. At the risk of being called a business card snob, let me just say that I read a lot in to what I see on that little piece of paper. Is it designed well? Does it provide the necessary information? Does it grab my eye? Does it feel substantial in my hand? Was it well thought out? Does it give me a sense that this company has it together? I want my card to communicate more than just fact…I want it to communicate excellence!

We built our USA Print Broker reputation on printing business cards that stand out from the competition. Our standard cards use a 16pt stock. That is thicker than almost every other card I see. We have found a thicker card makes a better impression, so that is what we consider standard. We have also found that color isn’t just eye-catching, it is memorable. The back of a business card can be just as important as the front. Either leave it blank, so that notes can be written on it, or use it as a way to communicate more specific services, requests for referrals, or even use it to provide coupons for products and/or services rendered.

No matter what you do with your card, don’t forget the basics:

  • Make sure your contact information is legible. If you have so much information that you had to use a 6pt typeface, no one over 40 can read it!
  • Make sure you use your logo. If you don’t have one, get one designed immediately.
  • Do you have a one-line slogan that describes your business or services? Use it.
  • If you have an email address and website, be sure to put them on there. You would be surprised how many clients want to communicate through email.
  • If you can, look at your competitors’ cards and make sure yours stands out.

Our standard cards are a great quality product that any business can afford, but we don’t stop there. We offer a wide variety of options depending your requirements and budget:

Are you ready to network? Get your cards together and go be memorable!

by David Brown, Owner of USA Print Broker, Inc.

Before starting USA Print Broker, Inc. my career was focused on creating workflow automation software for various industries. At Kindred Healthcare, I co-wrote a workflow system that helped their pharmacy division receive, fulfill and deliver orders to their customers.

The process of workflow automation is the same for all types of business, but the options are limited. When I started USA Print Broker, Inc, we used paper to track each order. The paper forms evolved as we learned how to better track each order. Most printers still use paper to track their orders and workflow since this is the most inexpensive method available. (A robust workflow system can easily cost more than $100,000)

After about six months of tracking on paper, I felt I knew enough about the process to start building our own workflow solution. I started by looking at off-the-shelf software to do this. In each case I saw many areas where we would have to modify our process to fit the software. I decided to create a custom workflow solution that fit the needs of our business and our customers exactly.

Our current system logs each order from our website, phone, fax or email. Each job goes through a flowchart-based process that makes sure an employee signs off on each step. Since there is no paper involved, an order can’t fall behind a desk and be lost forever.

Our productivity increased immediately, and our error rates dropped dramatically. As the years have gone by, I still add new features and improvements to our workflow system. It is just one of the ways we deliver high quality commercial printing to our valued customers.

I’ve been a graphic designer for about twenty years. One of my first jobs was with a small design and pre-press firm in San Diego, California. At that time, we still had several graphic artists who would have us set text and/or make photographic stats of images to be run out on our imagesetter. The resulting positives would be waxed and pasted up for the printer, who would make a metal plate to run on the press.

Oh, how things have changed. The waxing machine has been gone for many years now, and the imagesetter found a new home, too. We thought we were really uptown when we sent our first “digital” job to the printer via the internet. We had to wrestle with file sizes and font issues, but it was a new era and we were loving it. Little did we know that just a few years later, we’d be handling every step of the design and pre-press process online through Web2Print technology.

Web2Print is the latest answer to the black hole that once existed between a graphic designer and a printer. With the ability to upload files to a printer’s website, or better yet, to design a printed piece on that same website, the need for viewing hard-copy proofs is no longer present. The proof is right on the screen. What you see is what you get….and you get what you get a whole lot faster!

Web-to-print enables companies to order their printed items faster using web 2.0 technology. Imagine all of the items you order (business cards, invoices, checks, letterhead, brochures, etc.) available in your own online store.

To understand the benefits, lets look at the traditional order cycle most companies use:

  1. Place order by FAX or phone
  2. Receive confirmation at some later time
  3. Receive a proof by FAX or email
  4. Review proof, make changes or approve
  5. If changes are required submit by email or FAX and go to step 3
  6. If the proof is correct then production begins

This process takes 3 days on average. Lets review the process for a Web-to-Print order:

  1. Load up your order page and click the product
  2. Complete the variable data fields (phone numbers, address, etc.)
  3. See proof instantly & approve

This process, on average, eliminates 3 work days from your order cycle. Errors are also reduced since what you see is what you get. There is no back-and-forth proofing.

Web-to-print isn’t for the small company that only places a couple of orders a year, but it is ideal for any of these scenarios:

  • Companies who want tight control over their printed image
  • Companies who employ 25+ people who have business cards
  • Companies with multiple locations
  • Companies who provide printing services to their customers as part of a multi-service office supply contract.

USA Print Broker, Inc. is one of a handful of printers in the country who have developed a web-to-print solution. Contact David Brown for information on how we can set your company up with a 21st century ordering system!