Jeff Bertrand gave details this week about how the company currently uses advertising and PR to promote its Booklet Label products. The class assignment is to come up with a PR campaign for JH Bertrand that is based on a smaller company budget. The Buffalo State students seem up to the task. “It was really a fun experience. The students at Buffalo State are engaging and very sharp” said Jeff Bertrand. “I look forward to the fresh perspective on PR/marketing that they will bring to the company. It should be very interesting to hear their ideas.” Jeff made a point of telling them not to be shy about their thoughts. He told them that it’s important to business executives to hear both the good and the bad. The PR class will report results at the end of the semester.
The label converting business is a tough, competitive industry. There are a number of good manufacturers out there. And, fortunately for all us in the industry, we are in a good spot because we provide labeling for packaging which still has years of growth ahead. (And, it’s good to be in a niche of course!)
Yet, we all (the industry in general) still suffer from the “why we’re great” syndrome. We spend too much time talking about what we can do rather than being proactive and finding ways to solve problems for our customers that they may not realize that they are facing. I think the prevailing opinion is that if we somehow show all our capabilities..show how nice and likable that we are… that somehow we’ll get our fair share of business. Certainly, some of that works. But, the future value as a potential supplier lies in the ability to solve problems that customers don’t know that they have. This means spending time researching the business and then presenting ideas that may not be good news. Who likes to know about potential threats that aren’t on the radar screen yet? Ouch! We all know how that feels, but that is business 3.0 now.
We’re spending more time at JH Bertrand doing this with good results. It’s not easy, but we feel like we are a more valuable supplier. It feels really good when you come up with something that makes a big difference to a customer. Jeff Bertrand
It may sound like something you could care less about (and you’re probably right), but boy do our customers have their opinions on this. It’s like the “tastes great”… “less filling” beer debate.
Both work, but there are differences. Glue bound books don’t have a metal staple so they appear “cleaner”. They also lay flatter than a stapled booklet. However, glue takes up more space for graphics so you get less copy on a page. Glued spines can also have a problem with pages releasing on very thick booklets. Glue doesn’t rust, but I have never seen a rusted staple so this is a perceived negative of the staple that just isn’t true since they are corrosion proof. In general, glued spines are more expensive. Staples- are more reliable, less expensive and can handle thicker booklets, but you have to deal with a tiny metal sliver from an aesthetics point of view. Most customers are okay with it. Some refuse to change and that is okay…(we gently give our opinion as a good company should, and then do what the customer wants) And, staples cost less which helps people move that direction. Most converters generally prefer glue because you have that added worry of nicking the die with a staple..which definitely happens and is a pain.
Can you tell which one we prefer?- We like staples the best for the reasons above. But, we’ll do glue if our customers want it. It all comes down to customer preferences. Now you know! Jeff Bertrand
Technology is moving too quickly to do everything in house. Printing and converting equipment is too expensive and becomes obsolete too fast to do that. Even the best financed companies will find that it’s just too much. JH Bertrand has always believed in focusing its energies (and finances) on core competencies and using “best of breed” suppliers to fill in the gaps. We have perfected this over the last 30 years. We feel for those companies who are trying to do everything under one roof because it is going to become more and more impossible under the face of relentless technological change. Those companies that believe a company is “less” by using partners are using outdated thinking. JH Bertrand has a healthy manufacturing and partner base that has allowed us to provide everything our clients desire while keeping the company in top financial shape. Companies that are unwilling to acknowledge this truth are going to come to the end of their financial rope faster than they think.
One of my childhood heroes was professional golfer Jack Nicklaus who is arguably the greatest golfer to play the game with 18 major championship wins. What has always impressed me about Jack is how he practiced. He would never hit a ball half heartedly or without full concentration. He hit every shot at the range as if he were playing in a tournament. This is what I teach at JH Bertrand. When we are doing R&D work, whatever we are producing should be done as if a customer is going to see it. If we are working out a new SOP, we should do it as if the customer is standing over us. The most successful people (and companies) think this way. This is how champions think! Jeff Bertrand