Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

For years, I received periodic sales letters from one particular print rep. He tracked me down wherever I worked, probably via LinkedIn. If you buy printing, I’m sure you know a sales rep like him.

His pitch letter began, “I can’t remember whether we met when I worked at Printer A, Printer B, or Printer C, but…” That’s such a great opener, isn’t it?

The letter went on to say, more or less, “More about me, still more about me, blah, blah blah, and yes, we can do it all for you.” Yep, the same tired, old-boy print salesman routine this guy has used for decades. (See The Four Ps of Printer Selection for my Disaster Avoidance Tip on “We can do it all.”)

Whenever I got his letters, I would wonder, “So does this kind of thing ever work for him?” I had never worked with this man and I hardly knew him. Here is the problem: He was employing relationship marketing when we didn’t have a relationship! 

Disaster Avoidance Tip

If you do not have any real prior relationship with a prospective customer, please do not use this sales approach. It can come across as stalking, and it’s creepy!

So you may be asking, “What does work if this approach does not?” I will never forget my first meeting with one printing sales rep. She briefly introduced herself and said she wanted to focus her presentation only on the services that would be relevant to us. Then she asked at length about the kinds of print projects we did and what our challenges were. She asked many questions before saying a thing about what her printing company had to offer. Taking the time to get to know us made all the difference. I was so impressed by her approach and offerings that I began a business relationship with her that lasted for years.

Check out Seth Godin’s writing on permission marketing. As he says, “Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”

That’s pretty great advice.

© 2013 Nani Paape

Yesterday I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for a few friends. It was nice to bring out and use Grandma’s china, my hanai mom’s handblown glasses, and my mom’s special serving pieces. These domestic items connect me to my past and these powerful women who passed down their traditions along with their recipes. I miss them.

When I was washing the dishes, I broke the cut-glass dish Mom always used for serving the cranberry sauce. Aw, sad! It reminded me how fleeting things really are. As my Buddhist friend Betty is fond of pointing out, “It’s yet another lesson in non-attachment.” Indeed.

Today it’s quiet and gray, with the rain pounding on the skylights and Hula snoozing at my feet in the studio. My refrigerator is full of Thanksgiving leftovers.

I am grateful for my many blessings.

Fall harvest bounty at the University Farmers Market

If you haven’t bought your holiday cards yet, I encourage you to consider buying ones that were lovingly handmade and printed on a letterpress. A good place to shop for them is Etsy. My search for “letterpress holiday cards” at yielded 58 pages of beautiful cards to peruse!

If you haven’t shopped there before, you’re in for a treat. The cards I bought on Etsy from Vandalia Street Press just arrived and they are really lovely.

I say, get keepsake-quality handmade artisan cards and support working artists at the same time. It’s a win-win!

After spending seven months writing content and managing development for a new website for GeoEngineers, I was ecstatic when the site launched today.

Taaa-daaaaa! I’m very proud of the end results of my first really big website experience, and even more glad that it’s done at last. (My brain is toast.)

“Done” is relative when it comes to websites, it turns out. When I managed print projects, there always came a moment when they were, in fact, done: printed, folded, boxed and delivered. My print-related friends know how much I loved the tangibility of holding a finished printed product in my hands and examining it. I could assess its successes, learn from its flaws, and call it good.

But websites aren’t finite or tangible, and I am learning that they don’t really wrap up in the same way print projects do. I had already received suggestions for major design revisions and additions before the thing had even hit the street!

Read more about applying print skills to the web →

I had an email from a print rep the other day, saying he was coming to town and hoped to meet with me to show off some new samples.

He was shocked when I replied and told him I was no longer buying printing, but was now a copywriter for the web.

We emailed back and forth about some of the changes in the printing industry. He mentioned that the large, highly regarded company where he works had sold off a couple of its large presses and reduced capacity. I told him about my tour last year of an all-digital plant that didn’t have a prepress department, but did have an HP Indigo web press, one of the first installed on the west coast.

Read more of my perspectives on the future of printing →

Em-Dash, January 20, 2000 - June 18, 2011

I took Dash to the vet this morning for a check-up. Right after we walked into the examining room, Dash suddenly crumpled to the floor and cried out. At first we thought that he’d just lost his footing and fallen awkwardly. But Dr. Kung listened to his heart and said he thought Dash was “trying to pass.”

He gently lifted Dash onto the table and he died within a few short minutes as I stroked his face. He didn’t seem to be in any pain and seemed mostly gone by the time he got to the table. Dr. Kung thought that Dash’s final cry was probably more surprise than pain.

Dash was my sweet, funny and gentle companion for 9 years and I’ll miss him so much. Goodbye, Butternut.

This is Em-Dash. He’s the red fawn greyhound who I brought home to his “forever home” with me when he was 2-1/2 years old. My canine companion of nine years is sweet, reserved, gentle and funny. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Dash is my heart dog.

In February Dash was diagnosed with kidney disease, a progressive illness that prevents the body from using the protein in food to maintain muscle. Since the diagnosis, he’s gone from 73 pounds to well under 60 and his muscles are wasting away. His formerly muscular haunches are shockingly concave and bony now, his spine prominent and his ribs deeply corrugated.

Read more “It’s a Pensive Time” →

Anywhere from $29.95 to $400, apparently

I’ve been snapping photos to consider including in my third annual CD-case calendar this coming December. This one is in the running. I took it at Flower World, a large plant nursery near Maltby, WA.

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

The page design makes it clear to the recipient which way is up.

A couple of years ago, the United States Postal Service made changes to Standard Mail mailing panel design rules that frustrate designers and print managers no end. Just trying to parse out what the postal service rules are can be a challenge.

One of the main changes is that the mailing block now has to be in the upper half of the page of a flat. From a design perspective, that’s some awfully choice real estate to give up!

The cover sheet of this Print magazine direct mail piece follows the letter of the law, while masterfully playing with the question, “What is top?” It’s also a great example of aligning content to context.

Read more about mailing panels

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

Over the weekend I bought an Apple iPod Shuffle to use at my new writer’s desk. I could hardly wait to unwrap it and start using it!

Apple’s industrial design choices were smart and beautiful, as usual. The iPod came in a sweet little clear plastic cube, sealed with clear plastic tape with a subtle arrow that showed me how to unwrap it. Inside the box, the iPod sat on a little tray, beneath which were the earbuds, a USB cable, and a booklet labeled, “start here.”

Every customer action had been thought through, so taking the components out of the box was like unwrapping a specially wrapped gift. Lovely!

I did not love the instructions, though. They were extremely minimal and were set in tiny type. Nowhere in the booklet did it say, “For complete instructions, go to:”

If I need a magnifying glass to read the instructions, they are too small!

Instead—on the very last page—it said, “For important safety and instructional content, see the user guide:” Instructional content? What is that? As usability expert Steve Krug says, “Don’t make me think!”

Read more about not frustrating your audience →

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© 2009-2015 Nani Paape & Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in any form without express and written permission from Nani Paape is strictly prohibited. Are you aggregating my copyrighted content onto your website? If so, it's polite to at least ASK instead of just waltzing off with it. WITH my permission, SHORT excerpts and links may be used, provided that full, clear credit is given to Nani Paape and, with appropriate and specific direction and link(s) to the original content.