Name: Elaine

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    What Customers Think — the Good, Bad and Ugly by Jim Stiles

    November 3rd, 2014

    For quite some time now we have run a program of generating surveys for a quick response from our clients asking if they were satisfied with the product and service they received on their last order. The feedback we received has been excellent and we greatly appreciate the responses. Sharing positive feedback with the staff goes a long way with helping to keep our staff positive and letting them know their hard work pays off. Recently, in a large survey response we were overwhelmed with positive feedback which clearly showed we are the BEST supplier in the industry. Well, I am a realist and understand no company is that perfect.  We are all still human and not SUPER Velocity Print Solutions who can print at the speed of a bullet, bend steel with our paper cutting machines, or even stop a locomotive to make a job happen on time. There has to be clients who did not feel fully satisfied with our services. Unfortunately, not all clients are willing to say so and it is those I worry about. After all, if I just gave positive feedback to my son and never commented on how he might improve on something how would he ever learn?  

     I am sure that not all clients are comfortable complaining to the business because perhaps they feel their complaints will fall on deaf ears or they will be labeled as a complainer or perhaps it just wasn’t worth the trouble. One big thing stopping negative feedback I’m sure is that the client does not want to throw a sales person or customer service representative under the bus. To that point, I do not know of many professionally run companies who hang staff from the rafters if a little professionally presented criticism came in from a client. Any business needs criticism and constructive feedback to grow and improve their products and service levels. The little things matter. Did we keep you informed through the process? Did you have to wonder at any point where your job was or when someone would get back to you? Was the invoice timely and accurate? While it is just fantastic to receive positive feedback it’s really the small things that possibly annoy or take up your time that a survey is trying to unearth and provides the most valuable feedback to a company.

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    Custom Promotional Products – from Sourcing to Fullfillment to Shipping

    December 10th, 2013

    Our team excels at custom projects. We recently handled a special project for a Fortune 500 client to create a series of gifts for an executive leadership training series. This involved sourcing a stylish custom box that featured a debossed logo, as well as custom foam inserts that would not only protect the product, but have an elegant presentation and ship safely both domestically and globally. There were different themes based upon which country and location the leadership class took place. Some of the gift items included personalized letters, branded leather luggage tags, engraved brass compasses, commemorative coins, acrylic branded paperweights, and imprinted magnifying glasses as well as other items. Our promotional team and account manager sourced all the products and handled the print, packaging, fulfillment and shipping to over 50 locations globally. So, if you have a unique project and are wondering where to start or what vendor to contact…give us a call. We’ll be happy to assist and work with you to coordinate all the details so that your project exceeds expectations.

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    Velocity Print Solutions to Centralize Manufacturing

    December 3rd, 2013

    Albany, NY

    Velocity Print Solutions a Northeast Regional provider of print related communication services, headquartered in Scotia, NY has announced plans to centralize their production facilities. Velocity will be moving its smaller lithographic printing operation located in Middlebury, CT to their larger Albany, NY (Scotia) production facility. Velocity will be retaining a sales office in CT to house customer service and sales personnel. A six color large format 40″ lithographic press with automation and coating capability will be moved to the NY facility and will complement the existing offset and digital printing offerings.

    Customers asking for higher volume print quantities more suited for lithographic than digital will be pleased to learn we can now offer all this in one location. Project management will be streamlined with the variety of presses all in one location as well as fulfillment, mailing and shipping services. In addition, the corporate office in Scotia will be adding positions for press operators, production and sales staff.

    Jim Stiles, CEO states that: “This consolidation will put Velocity in a much stronger position to compete in the marketplace. Our wide variety of print related services that we currently offer will be complemented by the new services we intend to add in the near future.”

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    Custom Flash Drives. A success story about branding.

    September 27th, 2013

    Here is a short story of how we helped one of our customers prepare for a Symposium in Las Vegas.

    Kevin, our Central NY Account Executive, was contacted by the ESD Association (Electrostatic Discharge Association), headquartered in Rome, NY,  to assist them in sourcing products for their upcoming symposium which was being held in Las Vegas. They were looking for buttons, a tote bag and most important, a flash drive that they could load with all the technical sheets pertaining to the symposium. All items would need to be imprinted with their logo or other message and these would be distributed to all attendees at the event.

    Kevin, with the assistance of our crackerjack promo team, sourced a very slick looking 1GB Jaguar Flash Drive (pictured)

    that would be perfect for their needs. It was imprinted on both the cap and the sides of the drive and then all the data was uploaded for them. When complete all the products were shipped directly to our customer for a successful event!

    The moral of our story?  Don’t just think of us as just your printer. Yes, of course that is our core business but we are very much solution oriented and love to partner with our clients on all their marketing needs. We can simplify any event you may have. From printing registration packets, conference binders, training manuals, name tags, lanyards, posters, banners, gift bags, giveaway items, etc… You name it and we’ll find it for you. Our production team can package everything for you and our shipping crew can ship directly to your event location to save you the hassle of transporting yourself.



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    Hidden Easter Eggs in Graphic Applications

    July 26th, 2013

    Written by Stef King, Prepress Manager CT

    Hidden features or Easter Eggs exist in many of the applications we use from day to day. This is a way for developers to leave you a special message or just let you know they were there.
    In QuarkXpress there has been a Martian hidden in their application for years. To bring out the Martian you need to select an object and hit command (or Control) shift + delete and he will come out and destroy your selected object. If you do this 10 times in a row a giant monster will come out and blow up the object. Of the hidden features you can find this is my favorite.
    In InDesign if you go to the about InDesign menu and type the word butterfly you will be treated to a nice display of fluttering butterflies.
    In Illustrator you can display fun facts or even eyes that follow your every move within the application. To do this open a new page at the bottom left of the illustrator window command + option click (Control+alt click) on the box next to the page number. You should be able to choose from quite a few fun facts & eyes that follow your mouse.
    In most versions of Photoshop if you hold the command + option (Control+alt) and click about Photoshop you will see a different splash screen with credits or even a special hidden message. This splash screen will also tell you the code name for that version of Photoshop (CS6 code name is Superstation / CS5 code name is White Rabbit). In Photoshop 4 if you hold command+option (Control+alt) and click on the layer options Merlin the wizard will pop out for a visit.
    Best way to find theses easter eggs is to explore your applications, most times holding the command + option (Control+alt). Happy hunting!


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    Oops, we messed up – now what do we do? 3 Key Steps to Keeping Your Customer

    July 3rd, 2013

    Oops, we messed up – now what do we do? 3 Key Steps to Keeping Your Customer

    Yes, occasionally mistakes do happen no matter how many T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. It happens. We’re human and sometimes things slip through the proverbial crack. The real test of superior and Above and Beyond customer service is how the mistake is handled and rectified. Do you attempt to cover up with a thinly veiled excuse that even a 1st grader could tell was bogus or do you take it on the chin, call the customer and explain what happened and work together to find a solution that will solve the immediate problem and get back on track. Obviously the correct response should be honesty is the best policy as we were all taught in Kindergarten. To attempt to conceal or downplay the problem will only serve to diminish your image and tarnish your reputation in the eyes of the customer. Confront the problem, find a solution and then make it right. This is where a solid quality management system can be a benefit. Review your process procedures and find the root cause and fix it.

    A well handled “disaster” can be recovered from and actually increase the loyalty of the customer. Remember the Tylenol crisis of 1982? The company won praise for its quick and appropriate action. Having sidestepped the position others have found themselves in – of having been slow to act in the face of consumer concern – they achieved the status of consumer champion. Within five months of the disaster, the company had recovered 70% of its market share for the drug – and the fact this went on to improve over time showed that the company had succeeded in preserving the long term value of the brand.

    In fact, there was some evidence that it was rewarded by consumers who were so reassured by the steps taken that they switched from other painkillers to Tylenol.

    The 3 key steps to follow:

    • Act quickly, with complete openness about what happened.
    • Take steps to ensure that measures are taken which would prevent a recurrence of the problem.
    • Be prepared to absorb the cost of fixing the problem to reestablish a basis for trust with the customer.



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    Shouldn’t Variable Digital Print be more than just a name?

    June 7th, 2013

    Written by Jim Stiles

    I just received a couple of direct mail pieces in the mail that were personalized or at least looked that way. They both had my name “JIM” in big letters on the front and some catchy line following to get my attention. Both companies used the same technique and surely expected to get some lift in response because of the use of the personalized attention getter. There is no doubt that personalization can lift response rates, but I wonder if the vendor that sold these companies on the use of personalization did them justice. There are many proven studies that show even the most basic personalization can lift response rates, however the same studies show that in-depth personalization makes a much larger impact.

    Simply putting a name on a post card has become almost common place and the audience is now less and less impressed by these tricks of the trade. They realize that some software is simply merging a name and when thrown into all the other wonders of technology that we are all experiencing in our lives today can almost go unnoticed or look gimmicky. True in-depth personalization should be much more than a name.

    When considering the use of personalization we encourage our clients to think past the parlor tricks and to take advantage of the variable content available today in our more sophisticated data lists. Let’s think for a moment what is included in a basic data list. There is the sex of the individual, the location, job title, company size, etc. Even with this basic information a personalized campaign can be built to get the individuals attention without them even realizing it. The most basic form would be to use one set of graphic images and background colors more suited for females and one for males. Now add in the location and make the images specific to that location. The result is a campaign that is personalized to the individual’s sex and location that will capture their attention without them even realizing it.

    Many of us now utilize CRM systems and our leads and prospects are manually researched and entered. Why not increase the depth of the knowledge base you are creating and include some personal information, business duties, hobbies, future business needs, product offerings, etc. etc. Now, picture a campaign designed to not only address sex and location but perhaps a third more personal interest or need.

    For example, this campaign for a state wide bank chain in the state of CT uses:

    • Uses spring flowers for females and a golf course for males
    • Uses a shore line reference in text for zip codes on the southern half of the state and hiking reference in the northern half of the state.
    • If family income is over X amount the text pushes investment options and lower income families get text offering a free beach bag when a new account is opened.

    Nowhere in this campaign is their name or obvious personal information. The campaign is simply personalized to the point of relating to the client without them realizing it. This simple bank campaign can run easily on a digital press using one data base, 4 different images and a couple of variable text blocks.

    So let’s get past the parlor tricks and start to take advantage of real in-depth variable printing.



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    How appealing is your Annual Appeal?

    April 25th, 2013

    Thought I would share a story of how we helped one of our clients achieve their annual appeal goal. In past years, this client simply mailed a plain letter on their letterhead asking for a donation. Nothing fancy, no return envelope, no reply card, no color – just plain vanilla. Results were less than they hoped for and they did not achieve their goals.

    We approached them and offered to sit down and discuss some other possible alternatives that could help them increase their donations. As a non-profit with a limited budget and staff we needed to maximize their efforts and show them how by investing a little more they could achieve their goal and increase the size of the donations.

    First, we discussed the “List”. We talked about the importance of the list and how it could be improved. Who was on their mailing list, how accurate did they think it was and could it be scrubbed? They agreed to take some time and work on improving the list. Second, we showed them various samples of other non-profit appeal letters and discussed what might work for them. We decided to keep the letter format but add personalization and use both sides, we added some color to make it appealing, and put a perfed reply card at the bottom for them to use when replying. Levels of donations were included, as well as options to mail or donate online and most importantly an envelope to reply back. The reply envelope included text thanking them for their support and the outside window envelope included a message indicating that this was the Annual Appeal. Third, we mailed it presorted first class so the receipt would be timely and any bad addresses would be returned so the list could be updated for future use.

    The results were vastly improved and they met their goal!  We work with many non-profits but the same techniques and solutions can be used in other markets and campaigns.



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    The Value of Print

    January 11th, 2013

    Just received an email this week from Michael Makin, the President and CEO of the Printing Industries of America, where he informs us that yet another major corporation- Google-  is bashing the print industry. Now, I personally love Google – it is my search engine of choice but come’on guys let’s play fair.

    Here are some excerpts from Mr. Makin’s letter:
    “Once again our industry is under attack, and this time it is from Google, which has launched an initiative titled “Go Paperless in 2013.” It is joined in this effort by a number of digital companies which clearly have a vested interest in a non-paper communications stream.
    Needless to say we find such a proposal ridiculous and an insult to the almost one million Americans who owe their livelihood to our industry.
    The primary raw material for printing is paper, which comes from trees, which are a renewable resource—so renewable that today our country has 20 percent more trees than it did on the first Earth Day, which was held more than 40 years ago.
    Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint—all other media require energy every time they are viewed. Electronic devices, which Google produces, for example, require the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non-renewable resources.”

    Visit our Linkedin or Facebook page to read more on the Value of Print.


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    Let’s Lose the Clock Tower

    November 8th, 2012

    written by Jim Stiles, CEO

    It is not uncommon for a school, with a well known image and look, to want to stay with the images and message they have used in the past. If the picture of the clock tower on campus has become the mainstay image then why change it up. If the past dozen mailings used the clock tower image then why can’t the new cross media campaign just repeat it as well? Have you ever heard the saying “What is the definition of insanity, doing the same thing and expecting a different result”. Unfortunately, I find that schools frequently fall into this trap. In today’s advertising world our readers are getting barraged with information and marketers must capture the reader’s attention in less than 6 seconds with a printed piece and 2 -3 seconds with a web landing page. So, is it possible that the old clock tower could be failing at the job?

    Most marketing managers faced with this dilemma need to focus on what  the goal of the campaign is. If the goal is simply wider brand recognition then the clock tower may be just the thing. If the goal is to get attention and solicit response from the reader then the clock tower needs to be replaced with a great “Call to Action” and some very eye catching quick bullet point messaging. My point is, if you are going to experiment and test new marketing tools like a cross media campaign then you may want to think about dumping the old tag line and image for a new look with powerful content.

    This is especially true when you integrate variable content and imagery into a campaign. Now the message and imagery can be tailored to the recipient’s personal interests. How powerful is that? So, next time let’s try to lose the clock tower and stay away from the school logo or crest centered on a direct mailer. Be creative! Be diverse!


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