In an ultra competitive world, companies need to be more creative about how they attractive new business. Asking lots of questions and being a consultant is one of the top ways to be more to your customer. By asking good questions, you can find “pain” that needs to be addressed. For example, a customer may find that it is costly to inventory 24 individual country languages for a medical product that is shipped to multiple countries. Your suggestion would be to consider a multi paged booklet label that turns 24 pages into one inventory item.
We take this process one step further. We review the business and look for issues that the customer may not know they have. The buyer probably knew that her inventory issue with the different country labels was a problem. She simply didn’t know the best way to solve it. The former is good, but your “A game” is to bring up issues that the customer is unaware that she is going to have.
A good example might be telling a customer about GHS in the early days of development. Global Harmonization is a global project that involves getting chemical companies to use the same symbology on their products across all countries involved. This makes it safer for the users and less confusing for the chemical companies when they prepare their labeling. You would stand out by bringing the issue up with the company as most sales people are more interested in addressing what is known rather than doing research and presenting what is unknown. It is much easier to become a supplier to a company when you come with fresh ideas on how to help with future problems. This gives the buyer a chance to address the future issues early with her company. Taking out any political issues, this can do nothing but make everybody look good.
If you want to be valuable to your customer/partner, you must take the consultative sale to the next level. The business, the buyer and you will all gain.
Not a day goes by where you don’t hear a story of somebody proclaiming the virtues of putting the information on the web rather than in printed form. A paperless world with nothing but electronic communications is the ultimate goal. It’s cheaper; it’s environmentally friendly; and it just makes sense… the argument goes. Whoooaa. It sounds good on paper (no pun intended), but it really isn’t that practical or safe for that matter. In fact, it has some significant downsides which could lead to legal issues and customer injury.
Lets look at some advantages:
Printed labeling is always there. You don’t need to turn it on. It doesn’t run out of power. You don’t need a device to use it. It isn’t based on shaky networks (can you hear me now).
Printed labeling is available to everybody who can read. There are those who don’t use electronics. Those who only have simple electronics like flip phones. Those without computers. Why would any company want to cut off a major chuck of its customers?
Printed labeling is convenient. Open it up and read. You don’t have to turn it on…find scanner….scan it….And, then read the webpage. What a pain. Tick tock! Peeling opening a booklet label to read the instructions is simple and easy.
Printed labeling makes good legal sense. In this litigious world, you need all the protection you can get. A major argument against a product misuse lawsuit is that the instructions were physically attached to the product. Can you say that about a website in cyberspace? Maybe someday, but not now.
Printed labeling is safer. It’s reliable, convenient, and readily available. All you have to do is peel it open. It says “this is dangerous or read this before taking etc”. No QR code does that.
You might want to give a second thought to the person who suggests eliminating package labeling in favor of putting it on the web. It might seem like a good idea, but the ramifications are enormous.
Coupon labels have been popular for decades. They are a great way to catch the attention of new customers and reward old customers. They are proven winners. However, we have recently noticed a sharp reduction in coupon label orders. We checked with other converters in the industry (at least 15 converters/customers) , and they report seeing the same thing. Everyone is saying coupon label business is slow. (This is only a small fraction of our business so it isn’t affecting us too much-thankfully) I was wondering why this might be the case. Frankly, I think there are some trends working against it. (1) The economy is still hurting in certain markets so people don’t want to discount their products. (2) More people are using Smartphone coupons where there is less cost for delivery. (3) More people are using the coupons that are given away at the register. (4) It’s the weather. LOL. I had to put that one in because everybody blames the weather for everything although you could make a case this winter.
If it’s the economy, this is interesting because the coupon business has traditionally increased during a poor economy so it just might be that companies are favoring other delivery methods right now.
I firmly believe that coupon labels will be around for a long time. You can’t beat putting something directly on the product. They really aren’t that expensive, and they are more obvious than something on a smartphone. But, with that said, it certainly appears that coupon labels are facing some stiff head winds right now. Not dead, but certainly a bit wounded for the moment.
Medical Booklet Labels need to be stored in the cleanest conditions with climate control. JH Bertrand does a lot of make and hold and print-resupply jobs so this space is particularly helpful for those projects where standard warehouse storage isn’t good enough. This room is lock and alarmed. Only authorized personnel have access.
GHS stands for Global Harmonization System where hazardous chemicals are required to follow a global standard of labeling. OSHA is the regulatory body in the United States responsible for the US component of this planet-wide agreement. The chemical industry worldwide is a $1.7 trillion dollar market so this is a big deal. World governments believe that this will make chemicals safer to use across countries and languages where there are many different standards which are ostensibly creating confusion and unsafe chemical use. These changes will result in more copy being displayed on the product particularly if foreign languages are involved.
In reviewing this regulation, JH Bertrand believes the biggest issue for manufacturers will be in the area of small containers. As of this writing, OSHA is allowing no exemptions for small product containers meaning that foldout labels may be needed to accommodate the new label regulations. If you find yourself facing the problem of complying with GHS on small containers, please call us. We are VERY skilled at applying a volume of copy to small, curvy containers.
The deadline appears to be sometime in 2015 so it is fast approaching.
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